The 14,000 m 2building, which will face Newcastle Civic Centre, is also set to house the Institute for Policy and Research, student support services and offices.
DEGW's Iain Macdonald, who is heading a design team that includes structural engineer Buro Happold, said: 'Leading to a new quadrangle, the building will make a statement of welcome as the new entrance to the university campus from the city.
'Together with the students' union, the Northern Stage theatre and the planned Culture Lab and Hancock Museum upgrading, the area is intended as the social heart of the university and will emerge as a new cultural quarter for the city of Newcastle.'
John Lambert, deputy director of estates at the University of Newcastle, added: 'DEGW demonstrated its capabilities in addressing architectural, sustainability and civic issues, but the firm's approach to design through research and strategic thinking gives it a comprehensive understanding of our future needs in delivering higher education.'
The new centre on the Barras Bridge site is scheduled for completion in mid-2008.