MAB Third Floor

We are redeveloping the third floor of the Main Admin Building this summer to create new high-quality teaching, learning and working environments for all students and staff.

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MB3200-3 from sofas


This project has been informed by several trends inside and outside the University:

  • The University’s growing undergraduate and postgraduate student numbers necessitate the creation of more teaching and learning spaces across the campus
  • Staff development is more critical than ever for the University’s future success – both formal training and development sessions, and informal time away from one’s desk to read, research or complete online training activities
  • We need to continuously optimise our existing facilities, making good use of space all year around, as well as during the University’s core teaching weeks
  • Creative collaboration and project work are increasingly important, both for students through Student as Producer and for staff, placing increased pressure on group work spaces across the campus
  • Compression of individual staff workspaces necessitates increased provision of informal breakout spaces for collaboration, learning and socialising

What is happening?

  • Three new high-quality seminar and staff development rooms (designated MB3201, MB3202, and MB3203) are being created on the third floor of the Main Admin Building.
  • A major new informal ‘lounge’ space for students and staff is being created by widening the central walkway in front of the new rooms from 1.5 to 4.5 metres and furnishing the existing landings at each end of the walkway.
  • The south-facing outdoor terraces on this floor are being refurbished and brought into use to provide additional breakout spaces in good weather.
  • Corridor layouts are being changed to facilitate student and staff access to toilets which are currently accessed through the Finance and HR offices.
  • Signage to the four main stairwells is being improved to encourage students and staff to use the stairs rather than the lifts whenever possible.

Here’s an overview of the new layout, showing the new lounge (sofas left and right, workspaces centre), seminar and staff development rooms (above centre) and outdoor terrace (top centre).

MB3200-3 from north



The changes in Registry’s areas were completed in May. Demolition and construction works are now underway (July). The new spaces will be soft-launched in early September ready for full use from Monday 23 September.

Design and benefits



The new lounge spans the full length of the Atrium. With 84 seats in total, this is a major new place for students and staff to study, work and relax together.

The design of the lounge is inspired by the Champagne Bar at St. Pancras International (opposite), and by the “Airport” concept generated by one of the subgroups in the Seminar Room Design workshop at the Student/Staff Conference on 1 February – a spacious, technology-rich concourse where students can relax and be productive between and during seminars.


There are three distinct zones to the lounge: the central area in front of MB3201-3, and the two landings at each end.

The central area will be equipped with six U-shaped tables for student and staff use, each with six seats. These tables can be used as breakout and refreshment areas for students and staff based in MB3201-3; an informal alternative to booking a meeting room; or simply as somewhere to work or study with less formality than the Library or the office; a “daytime living room” for students and staff, where work can be done under less tension.

cloud_desktop_crest_graphic_largeOn each table will be two new Cloud Desktop computers for individual, pair or group work. The Cloud Desktop system allows students and staff to power up and log into their University account in just a few seconds. There will also be power sockets in each table for mobile device users.

Mobile whiteboards positioned between the tables support brainstorming and planning and provide a degree of enclosure and visual privacy for individual and group work. The whiteboards include shelves for pens, erasers and recycling bins.

MB3200 group tables

The walking route along the lounge is being moved away from the balustrade, reducing the vertigo experienced by a significant number of building users at present. New energy-efficient LED lamps in the floor will wash the arched ceilings with light, while lamps on each table will provide extra illumination for reading and evening discussions.

The two landings will be furnished for relaxation and conversation, with pairs of sofas, coffee tables and plants. The new layout on the landings maintains clear routes to and from the lifts and stairs while providing seating for up to 48 people at busy times, such as the changeover periods between seminars.

Seminar and staff development rooms

MB3201-3 have been designed to support seminars and staff development events. The core design goals are conviviality and comfort: to create places where students and staff can enjoy the learning experience for hours at a time, while forming personal connections which last beyond the formal session.

Based on student and staff feedback about physical/environmental and social/interpersonal success factors for seminars received in the Seminar Room Design workshop at the Student/Staff Conference in February 2013, and feedback from academic colleagues at the Seminar Room Focus Group in October 2012, the new rooms are designed to support and encourage a ‘groups within groups’ approach which maximises participation and peer-to-peer learning. The rooms’ design is inspired by the “Paw Print” concept developed by one of the subgroups at the Student/Staff Conference. These are decidedly not lecture rooms; they are instead designed to maximise interaction between participants.

Each room has space for 30 people, seated six to a table. There is a substantial area in the centre-front of each room to allow the tutor / facilitator to walk around and engage with each group directly during subgroup discussions.

MB3201-3 oblique

The tables are of a new design, which we have developed from a design introduced at Aberystwyth University. The top is a Reuleaux triangle – inclusive like a circle but with a smaller distance between group members, facilitating conversation in a noisy room. Power sockets in each table facilitate charging of mobile devices. The tables can be folded and wheeled away when not needed.

MB3201-3 table June

Next to each table is a mobile whiteboard for fast, easy idea generation and sharing across the room. The whiteboards have also been designed for Lincoln, having been prototyped in MB1012 during 2012/13. They have angled surfaces for ease of writing whether seated or standing, and built-in shelves for pens, erasers and bags. The folding walls and the two end walls will also have whiteboard surfaces to provide even more writing space.

We have selected the Cinto chair by Humanscale – a comfortable and extremely supportive chair with a porous back for airflow. The seat pads will be upholstered (not pictured) for comfort. The chairs are on casters so that users can easily rotate away from the table as the focus moves around the room – as each group presents its ideas, for example. The chairs are also stackable, making it easier to reorganise the room for Open Days, exams and other special events.

varihiteEach room will be equipped with a multitouch SMART Board linked to an ultra-short throw projector, networked PC and loudspeakers.

The layouts are spacious and uncluttered. The colour palette is predominantly neutral, to provide a calm learning environment where people and information are the focus. Splashes of the University’s colours add visual interest and express the University’s identity.

Students and delegates need to be physically comfortable for optimal learning, especially during half-day or whole-day sessions. Room temperature, air quality and lighting are vital for this. Users will have direct control of ventilation and cooling in MB3201-3 via wall-mounted controls. This also enables users to keep the windows closed even on hot days, minimising noise from the Atrium to the north and the railway to the south. The cooling units will be suspended in rafts which also serve as acoustic baffles to reduce conversation noise.

Dracaena-Janet-CraigLiving plants and wall graphics will provide visual breaks and splashes of colour, as will the views to the north and south of the rooms. A wall clock and recycling bins in each room complete the fitout.


New lighting will be the same glare-free, low-energy system as deployed elsewhere in the building, switchable by rows to facilitate AV presentations. Folding walls will allow all three rooms to be merged for Open Days and other special events. The mobile AV systems and tables can be easily repositioned to suit these events – for example, two or three AV systems could be moved to one end of the space to create an interactive media area.


The south-facing outdoor terrace will be accessible from MB3201 and MB3203. New furniture and anti-slip synthetic timber decking will create a safe, comfortable outdoor environment for student and staff use in fair weather. The terrace enjoys direct sunlight for most of the day, and has a visual relationship with the new sculpture terrace on the New Art and Design Building on the far side of the railway tracks:

COM_130_8012_Visual 8

View from third floor terrace to sculpture terrace on New Art and Design Building

Management and evaluation

The new seminar and staff development rooms will be managed by the Timetabling & Room Bookings team within Registry. Students and staff will be able to book the rooms online when they are not booked for teaching.

The new spaces will be evaluated after completion by Estates & Commercial Facilities, with input from postgraduate and undergraduate students and academic and professional support staff. Multiple methods will be used, including the campus-wide space utilisation survey in October 2013; discussion groups; questionnaires; and direct observation. Evaluation findings will inform subsequent projects and may also trigger adjustments to these spaces.

Special thanks

We would like to make a special mention of the Registry team, who volunteered to reduce their office space to enable the creation of these new spaces, and the Human Resources team, who agreed to exchange their staff training room in return for access to the new spaces. Without these two teams’ support, this project would not have been possible.

Your thoughts

We’re excited about this project’s potential to improve life for students, academics and professional support staff, and we look forward to seeing the new spaces in use and receiving your feedback on them. If you have comments or questions, please share them with us using the form below, or tweet @LincolnEstates or email

Architectural design of the new spaces is by Core Architects of Lincoln. Space planning and project management are by the Estates & Commercial Facilities team. Sculpture terrace visual is by Stem Architects.

Progress updates
By Dave Prichard

The latest images below (taken on 11 September) show the dramatic difference the new walkway has in enlarging the space on the Third Floor. Work to finish the space has begun, with painting and decorating now under way.

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The big development on the third floor is the new open space on the walkway. This image was taken on 28 August. There will be furniture in this new space for group work. 

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In just a couple of weeks, we expect the third floor to be completed. These images were taken on 22 August and show the new wall divides in place which will allow the rooms to be adapted in terms of size. With two dividing walls, there are now four combinations of room size available for teaching and learning.

DSC_3292 DSC_3288 DSC_3287 DSC_3286 

The Third Floor will be transformed. The middle plate has been stripped of the glazing ready for the three new entrances to be added (image taken on 16 August).


So before the works really kicks in for the third floor, we’ve taken some images to show you the staring point (photos taken on 2 August).

Below is the corridor outside the third floor which will be transformed by the time term starts, commanding views towards the Cathedral and city centre.


Inside, the old Registry office has been completely knocked through to create a giant space. This will be split into three multi-functional rooms for teaching and learning purposes.


However, in my opinion, the most exciting transformation is the new balcony area which will be used by staff and students.


This area has been decked already and is ready for use. It has a fantastic view to the other side of campus!


The two images below were taken on 15 July, they show the old walls being knocked through ready to re-allocate the space into three new, open and airy teaching rooms. It’s getting exciting!

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Not a great deal to report on this week as the works are in a transitional stage. The images below were taken on 10 July, and show the rooms cleared and ready for works access.

DSC_2506 DSC_2504 DSC_2505

So before work starts on the Third Floor, we thought it would be useful to photograph the existing layout. These images were taken on 21 June after the office decamp to the new facilities shown on 3 May:

DSC_2193 DSC_2192 DSC_2190

10 May 2013: Detailed design of the new seminar rooms is well advanced. We have selected the Humanscale Cinto chair for comfort, support, ease of rotation and stackability. Updated visuals are available above.

3 May 2013: the remodelled Registry offices on the southeast plate are now complete and in use. The changes to the southwest plate are nearing completion – the new rolling storage system will be installed and the last group of staff will move into the space in a couple of weeks, freeing up the south central plate for conversion in the summer.



The prototype table for the seminar and staff development rooms has been delivered and approved subject to a few minor changes. We’ve also selected a layout for the new lounge area, as described above.

9 thoughts on “MAB Third Floor

  1. Pingback: MAB third floor project page updated | Learning Landscapes

  2. Really exciting stuff, Sam. Room layout, as I’ve stressed previously, is absolutely key to flexible teaching and learning. Additionally, however, these proposals have great potential for income-generation as an attractive conference venue. As a marketing ploy, they make the most of the modern architecture, keeping everything fresh and futuristic. I look forward to these ideas making a difference and, as time and resources allow, something similar being rolled out across the University. (In the shorter term, delighted to be getting out of Village Hall! ;) )

    • Many thanks, Nigel!

      These new spaces incorporate all of our learning from recent projects, from discussions with academics and students, and from other universities in the UK and the US. We’re really looking forward to seeing them in use from September. We’re also planning more new learning spaces for 2014 and subsequent years.

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