Banff and Buchan College entered a new era last Friday when the First Minister of Scotland officially opened its newly redeveloped main campus in Fraserburgh.
The opening ceremony marked the completion of an 18-month extensive redevelopment project, which involved the demolition of much of the original building and the construction of a modern new learning space in the centre of the College.
The main features of the new building are a more accessible entrance and a large central atrium that houses the new reception, library, social areas and flexible workspaces for students and staff. The atrium feeds into several new classroom clusters that provide a modern and high quality environment for learning and are designed to meet the demands of today’s curriculum. Above the atrium is a new mezzanine level offering comfortable social spaces as well as a custom built employability area, where students can learn and hone their practical and personal skills in readiness for starting work.
New canteen facilities and a coffee shop complement the building and while the overall footprint of the College remains virtually unchanged, the exterior has been completely refreshed and modernised.
Throughout the new building there is an emphasis on environmental sustainability. Eco-friendly measures include a cutting edge ground air heat exchanger, which delivers pre-heated and/or cooled air to the atrium, and solar powered wind-catchers that naturally ventilate classrooms without external windows. Over 100 solar PV panels convert daylight/sunlight into electricity and are a UK first for this type/size of installation, helping the building to achieve a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.
The £23million redevelopment programme was funded by the Scottish Funding Council and a £110k Scottish Government CARES grant, and the construction work was undertaken by Robertson Construction Northern.
The First Minister Alex Salmond, who marked the opening of the building by burying a time capsule in the new external light-well area of the atrium, said: “Banff and Buchan College is another fine example of a further education establishment that has reassessed how it needs to change to deliver during these difficult economic times.
“When it was established in 1973, it supported the training of local Aberdeenshire companies and beyond - today it has evolved to reflect the changes in the jobs market while also supporting students from home and further afield.
“This £23million refurbishment has created an environment for top quality learning for the 9,000 enrolled students who attend annually and has enhanced the College’s reputation for providing education, training, and services of the highest quality. The College already has a well-respected reputation in preparing new talent for careers in industries such as the oil and gas, maritime, business, service sector and the arts.
“The impressive facilities, cutting-edge technologies and dedication of both students and staff which I have seen and enjoyed today are proof positive that Scotland’s colleges have a major role to play in our economic recovery.
“This is another example of how Scotland’s college estate is being improved through collaboration between the Scottish Government, further education colleges and the Scottish Funding Council.
“The Scottish Government is committed to our innovative and creative colleges. This is why we are investing over £2 billion in the sector between now and 2015.”
College Principal Paul Sherrington added: “Today’s opening ceremony is a historic occasion for the College and celebrates the dedication and effort of all those who have been involved in making the College 2012 vision a reality.
“We extend our thanks to all those who have assisted us with the College 2012 project, particularly our funding partners, the companies who have been involved with the building works, and our students and staff, who have all played an important and enthusiastic role in supporting the building work.
“I truly believe we have created a very special environment in which to learn and work, and I look forward to seeing the new building fulfil its purpose over many years to come.”
Alan Findlay, Chairman of the College Board of Management added: “The Board has shown vision and ambition in pursuing this building project from the outset. Our new building is a fantastic achievement, designed and constructed to the highest standards, and ensures that the College now is a community learning resource in the widest sense, which will benefit future generations to come.”