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Imperial to 'prove'design value in university building

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The director of estates at Imperial College in London is to undertake research into the value of good design in university buildings.

Ian Caldwell, himself an architect, has been commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council. 'What we are thinking about is trying to define quality by benchmarking other buildings, ' Caldwell told the AJ at last week's Property Forum.

Imperial is a considerable patron of good architecture, with research buildings by Foster and Partners, a library extension by John McAslan and student accommodation by Feilden Clegg under construction.Empirically Caldwell knows that the Foster buildings, for example, have helped to attract world-class academics to work at the university.

Both the Higher Education Design Quality Forum and CABE chairman Sir Stuart Lipton, who is also chairman of Imperial's estates committee, are addressing these quality issues.'We are trying to find if there is a way to demonstrate that a quality building can bring in more money and students, ' Lipton said. HEFC has commissioned this research now, he believes, 'because more money will be going into education to sort out the legacy of the '60s.'

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