The LSE Marshall Building

Taking learning to the next level

Tailor-made with both students and academics in mind, the Marshall Building is one of the most significant projects in recent LSE history

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The LSE Marshall Building Project summary

Client Name

The London School of Economics and Political Science

Key partners

Getjar, Dornan, Techrete, GIG, I&S, Swift Crafted

Sectors

Education, PREACH

Services provided

Construction

Sectors

Health and education, Public buildings and estates

Locations

UK and Europe

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Project story

Innovation. Creativity. High-performance.

More than just a structural marvel, The LSE Marshall Building represents not only an opportunity for Mace to add a brand-new legacy building to the London skyline, it’s also a chance to make a real contribution to the future of education in the city.

The Marshall Building is the second development Mace has delivered for the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) since the Centre Building completion in 2019 - and every detail of the project’s structure required careful planning and innovation.

Forging part of LSE’s newly reformed Central London campus, Mace collaborated with LSE to bring their vision to life; transforming 18,100m² of seminal space to more accurately reflect their status as a world-class academic institution.

Designed by RIBA Stirling Prize winners Grafton Architects, the new flagship building comprises ten upper floors and two basement levels that will house a number of departments - from The Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, to the academic departments of accounting, finance and management, as well as new teaching and sports facilities for the Students’ Union.

Situated in the southern corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, The Marshall Building occupies a central position within the LSE campus, with three separate entrances providing access to a magnificent great hall. This open plan space invites students, visitors and staff to meet and socialise and links the building to the wider campus.

The interior is designed to enhance the student experience and makes great use of visually compelling architecture, including a striking helical staircase that sweeps up from ground floor to the teaching spaces on the first and second floor.

The team also developed a complex structural solution, using large spanning concrete ‘trees’ in a cruciform arrangement. inspired by the local 17th century chapel’s architecture, the great hall houses six of these imposing 6.5 metre-tall concrete trees, which rise from the ground floor and include 28 extending branches that form a vault-like ceiling, The result is a cathedral-like space, seamlessly connecting the interior with the surrounding cityscape.

This tree structure responds to the changing uses throughout the building, from large column free zones for the basement and ground floor, to smaller column grids for the offices and teaching spaces on the upper levels.

18,100 m² of new academic space
12,000 tonnes of C02 saved
1145 precast panels manufactured off-site

POINTS OF NOTE

Quality control

For an intricate project such as this, it was vital that an extensive amount of time was spent ensuring the correct materials were sourced to satisfy the design brief. The exposed concrete structure formed an integral part of this design, and in order to achieve the desired high-quality finish and smooth detailing of the concrete that the architects envisioned, the team utilised welded prefabricated reinforcement and bespoke formwork systems. As the concrete finish would also be visible throughout, it was important that the team determined what mixes of concrete would be used in the finish - this was achieved through extensive sampling.

Real-time digital solutions

Like many projects in 2021, this development also faced the challenges of fostering collaboration between staff based across several different locations. This meant innovative solutions and technology were required to keep the project moving and keep all stakeholders engaged. RealWear software was introduced to alleviate quality control issues, and allowed for seamless one-team involvement. This meant the implementation of a smart, head-mounted camera and microphone, meaning that the remote project team could still maintain sight of the process and monitor the quality of the build in real-time. BIM360 also helped to further aid quality sign-off and enabled us to observe and correct any defects, ensuring all areas were complete and compliant.

Low carbon, high performance

Reduction of embodied carbon is ingrained in the Mace sustainability strategy, and for The Marshall Building we opted for sustainably produced concrete, with ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) used to reduce the cement content, and concrete volumes reduced through extensive post-tensioning.  The 1145 precast panels that make up the low carbon frame were manufactured off-site in order to reduce time and costs. The building has achieved the BREEAM Excellent rating through enhanced building performance and regulations, which take into account energy efficiency and insulation. By saving 12,000 tonnes of carbon, The Marshall Building also aligns with RIBA’s new 2030 targets.