- Higher Education

Student Centre: The University of York’s new welcoming gateway

University of York

Higher Education



Jon Roylance


In 2021, the University of York ran a competition to choose a design team for their new student centre – a flagship building that would unite a wide range of services into a sustainable, vibrant home for students. ADP won the competition in partnership with Irish practice O’Donnell & Tuomey, and we’ve since been working together to design a building that will meet the many and varied needs of students on campus.
The ambitious brief placed sustainability front and centre, with net-zero carbon being a key requirement. The centre would also need to support new ways of connecting with students in the digital age, while maximising the potential of the spaces within. Engaging with stakeholders was a key challenge: students face growing difficulties with the cost of living, and a large new building on campus needed to justify its existence by providing wide-reaching benefits for everyone.

Approach + Solution

Combining study and event spaces with a bar, a restaurant, student services, a gallery and a media studio, our proposal envisages a bustling hub for the student community, with flexible functions throughout the day and night. Its bold design echoes other landmarks nearby such as the Library and Central Hall, while an external square fronting the building will provide opportunities for outdoor socialisation and civic life.

We’ve put students at the heart of our design process, consulting with them over a series of town halls and meetings, and using social media to gather ideas on the emerging designs. When complete, the student centre will be a striking new addition to campus – sustainable and flexible enough to last for generations to come.