Marcus was the facilities lead for the design and build of the New Adelphi. Now, as Senior Building Manager, he oversees access and egress, security, cleaning, porterage, maintenance, repair and event support. He knows the building inside-out.
Marcus, what’s it like here?
We have loads of unique activities. You can go round one corner and there can be someone sticking sticky tape on a wall, thinking he’s doing the greatest sculpture since Michelangelo. Then you walk around another corner and there’s someone playing a saxophone. It’s such an eclectic mix but the building accommodates that. Each space is designed so well and the acoustics are wonderful.
What surprises you about this building in terms of how people use it?
It’s only this last year that it’s starting to get a sense of occupation – that feeling of ‘this is my desk and I’ve made it my own’. For the first 18 months, there was a sense of ‘it’s so new, I don’t want to scratch the paint’, like a new car. Whereas, they’re really starting to engage with the building now. I still think we’re only touching the surface of what we can actually do with the spaces. There’s so much potential.
How is the building affecting your job?
This building has made my job a lot more interesting. Everyone in the old building had their own little empires and the idea here is that you don’t have an empire – you have a space to teach your course and you share it. It’s a completely different way of working and a different culture compared to a traditional university building. Everything used to be cellular but now we have a lot more switching around. We have bespoke furniture which can be moved about, rooms can be reconfigured, teaching areas can almost be realigned and adjusted depending on cohort sizes or if courses develop. It’s the first time as a university we’ve tried to develop a building which isn’t tied to one subject but can change and grow in time.
So the building is helping you grow?
Yes, I don’t think the university realised how successful it would be. In terms of arts and media, all the forecasts were saying that university numbers were going to tail off. But when we got New Adelphi, the student numbers actually went up. I think they’d see the building and think, “I really want to come here”. So, a lot of our courses over the last three years have been oversubscribed and the aim is to grow by another nine percent over the next two years.
Has a community developed here?
I think the building’s growing and the community’s growing. We’re spreading our wings over the campus as the School of Arts and Media. We’ve got a front of house team this year for the theatre and they’re developing the building as an arts centre. So, instead of just the New Adelphi building at the University of Salford, it becomes ‘New Adelphi – a centre of cultural excellence for music, theatre, design and architecture’.
It’s opened the campus up. At 5 o’clock, when lectures finished, people would go home. Now we’ve got cultural focus. We’re one of the main buildings on campus and we have a lot of evening events in the theatre. We’ve actually employed Jim Cartwright as a playwright in residence who’ll put on big shows and attract members of the public.
So you think this building has changed the atmosphere across campus?
It’s been fundamental in changing the view of the campus and how it’s used. The building concept that was always sold to me, was a cantilever based over two concrete pillars. Like a bridge in the sky. For me, the concept was revolutionary. It gives you this gateway through the building and a brand new thoroughfare that opens up the whole of the campus. Instead of it just being a dead space, it’s become an active social space.
Before we had New Adelphi, we were like a 1960s industrial estate. It’s a lot more positive and a lot more 24 hour now.