28 March 2024

The site, made up of two adjoining buildings, will now be redeveloped and retrofitted, avoiding the carbon impact of a new build and reflecting the University’s strategic commitment to sustainability.

Visitors gathered at Westminster’s Marylebone Campus for breakfast and networking before the event was opened by Vice Chancellor and President Professor Peter Bonfield, who welcomed guests and explained the significance of the new building.

This was followed by a talk from Professor Lynne Berry CBE, the Chair of Westminster’s Court of Governors, who shared a brief history of the building and explained the Court’s vision for the future of 29 Marylebone Road. She emphasised the new opportunities the building will bring to students, bringing greater collaboration with industry, providing a better connection between educators and employers, enhancing students’ skills and supporting new enterprise.

Following Professor Berry was Penny Alexander, Chief Executive of Baker Street Quarter (BSQ), the local Business Improvement District (BID). Penny introduced BSQ and the longstanding relationship it has with the University of Westminster. BSQ have supported the redevelopment of 29 Marylebone Road since the plans were first drawn up and shared with guests the excitement and hope she and her business members have for how the project can deepen the University’s connection with the community.

Guests then walked to the rear entrance of 29 Marylebone Road for the official breaking of the ground by Professor Bonfield, Linsey Cole, Director of Business Engagement at Westminster, and Mei Xin Wang, a member of the University’s Court of Governors. Richard Dobson, Area Director in London of Morgan Sindall, the construction company who have taken on the project, also joined the celebrations giving a speech at the site, enlightening the crowd on the importance of the project to his company, the need for greater diversity and sustainability in the construction industry and the history of ceremonial breaking of the ground.

Adorned in high-vis and hard hat, Professor Bonfield, Cole and Wang made the first mark in the ground to commemorate the start of construction which will bring the enterprise hub to life.

University of Westminster Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Bonfield said: “It is super to have broken ground, beginning the refurbishment of this new employability hub at 29 Marylebone Road that will support our students and many from our local and wider London communities. The needs of employers is changing rapidly and this new centre will be the place where businesses can engage with our wonderful and diverse students to help them find the talent they need. The real strength of this project is the strong partnerships we have built with our local community groups, our friends and our partners who share our ambitions for this centre.” 

Penny Alexander, Chief Executive of Baker Street Quarter, said: “The prospect of having a facility in the area focused on forging and developing links between local businesses, students and the wider community is really exciting. We can see how this will foster mutually beneficial collaborations and experiences. Many of our member businesses are keen to provide opportunities and share their experience and skills with the students. Local businesses also stand to benefit greatly from access to local talent, training and courses, new thinking and digital facilities. We are very much looking forward to continuing to work with the University to support their vision for the space.”

The nine-storey building is set to become the UK’s most inclusive centre for employability and enterprise, with accessibility, inclusivity and sustainability at its heart, bridging the gap between education and the business world. Located just across the road from the University’s Marylebone Campus, the building will bring employers, local residents and the University’s communities under one roof. Open to Westminster students, alumni and the wider community, the new centre will provide students with access to inspirational employer-led events and activities as well as training and networking opportunities for employers and local organisations.

The building will feature creative spaces to support collaboration and engagement with local businesses as well as event and exhibition spaces to showcase student enterprise and achievements. It will also host an array of state-of-the-art training facilities, including a digital studio and maker space.

The new Centre will directly contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and 17: Partnerships for Goals. Since 2019, the University of Westminster has used the SDGs holistically to frame strategic decisions to help students and colleagues fulfil their potential and contribute to a more sustainable, equitable and healthier society.

Find out more about the new 29 Marylebone Road building at the University of Westminster.