The coronavirus pandemic and the expansion of digital education have prompted the UvA to critically reassess the need for renovation or new-build projects. The feasibility of new plans will also be subjected to scrutiny. Risk management has been tightened up in all building-related projects too. A concrete decision has been made not to build a new lecture hall on Roeterseiland. The construction of the University Library (UB) is going ahead, despite the additional costs entailed. We are also pressing ahead with the University Quarter plans.
The UB demolition project has been awarded to a contractor. The new library is scheduled to open in 2023. The projected cost of the complex renovation of the Tweede Chirurgische Kliniek and the Zusterhuis buildings, combined with the new-build work, the construction of the basement and the atrium, is €108,8 million. A number of major setbacks have driven up the costs of construction. Once stripped, the buildings proved to be in much poorer structural condition than expected. Replacing the foundations, constructing a (bicycle parking) basement and restoring the façades will call for far more interventions, materials and labour. Another setback is the fact that market forces have brought about a rise in material and labour prices. Similarly, there has been an increase in the logistical costs associated with a construction site in the historic, fragile inner city. The UvA deems it necessary to accept these additional costs for the UB as, with its study places and extensive collection for staff and students, this facility is and will continue to be an indispensable cornerstone of the University Quarter. The additional expense for the UB will not be paid for from the budget for education and research but instead will be taken from the Accommodations Plan.
In order to be certain that building-related expenses are justifiable, the UvA regularly seeks advice from external experts. This has also been done for the UB. The advice shows that the lion’s share of the cost increase is associated with the construction of the basement, which is now well under way. In view of the level of ambition and the listed building status, the additional costs entailed are deemed proportionate. To date, it would appear that UvA decision-making on the UB project has been meticulous and the project management has been satisfactory. With regard to the latter, recommendations have been made. The UvA has adopted these and applies them to other building-related projects as well.
The ongoing coronavirus crisis and the growth of digital education have prompted the UvA to abandon the construction of a flexible lecture hall on Roeterseiland. The UvA previously suspended the construction work because the construction costs were considered to be excessive. Development of the so-called plot V is also to be stopped because of a lack of clarity vis-à-vis demand for large teaching rooms in the long run. Lab42 will become the international hub for the development of talent in the field of digital innovation and artificial intelligence (AI) at Amsterdam Science Park, on schedule and within budget.
Amsterdam City Council, local residents, entrepreneurs and the UvA are collaborating on a Strategic Master Plan (SMP), which is expected to be ready by the spring of 2021. The SMP will provide a solid basis on which to develop a centuries-old, fragile part of Amsterdam, transforming it into a unique urban area. As experiences of working on the construction of the UB have shown, the foundations in this part of the inner city are in poor condition, which is why the listed buildings’ foundations are to be resurveyed. The design process for the BG5 (former university restaurant) project has been put on hold whilst the outcome of this survey is being awaited. With regard to the University Quarter, efforts are also being made to find scope to reduce the costs of building-related projects by means of alternative plans. These efforts have now started for the Oudemanhuispoort and they fit in with the University Quarter development project. Finalising the SMP will mark a significant new step in this process.