Topping out ceremony held at new town Campus

THE sun shone on Stourbridge College’s skyline-changing new art and design campus in Brierley Hill as dignitaries gathered for the official ‘topping out’ ceremony.

College principal Lynette Cutting put the last piece of concrete in place at the event on Friday (March 25) marking the completion of the structure of the £12m building in Venture Way.

Work is now due to start on the state-of-the-art interior – and the college is due to open its doors to students in September.

Lynette said: “It’s incredible, after all the challenges we have faced with finance that we have reached this stage and record numbers of applications for our art and design courses are testimony to the fact that creative industries is alive and well in the Dudley borough.

“It’s a fantastic building and its really stands out.”

Located on the old Brier School site, the campus has been four years making.

At one point the project had to be scaled back after vital funds fell through but college bosses quickly came up with a plan which would see the building designed and built for a third of the original £36m cost – and construction work finally got underway last August.

When it is complete, the eye-catching creative industries campus will replace the college’s outdated Longlands campus and will accommodate up to 1,000 art and design, textiles, fashion, graphics, illustration and digital media students.

It will be kitted out with recycled furniture and equipment and will feature an iconic glass frontage – through which passersby will be able to see student exhibitons.

John Mensforth, construction director at BAM Construction which is carrying out the work, said he had been “impressed with the ambition” shown by the college in bringing the project to fruition. He added: “We are pleased to have reached this important milestone. We now look forward to the project’s successful completion later this year.”

Tim Sunter, chairman of the Brierley Hill Town Centre Partnership, described the building as “just fantastic”. He added: “The speed at which its risen out of the ground is a credit to everyone involved.”

‘Topping out’ ceremonies, marking the completion of a building’s structure, are thought to date back to Saxon times.

A yew branch is often also sited on the highest point of the building to ward away evil spirits.


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