Work on the University of Cambridge’s £300m Cavendish Laboratory redevelopment has been marked with a ground-breaking ceremony attended by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope.

This project will allow Cavendish to continue being – as it has been since 1874 — the home of discovery

Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope

The development, at the West Cambridge site off Madingley Road, will provide a purpose-built centre for the University’s world-leading physics research, bringing together all of the Cavendish Laboratory’s research groups under one roof.

The flagship building of the new Cavendish Laboratory will be named the Ray Dolby Centre, in recognition of an £85 million gift from the estate of sound pioneer Ray Dolby – the largest philanthropic donation ever made to UK science.

In addition to the Dolby gift, the new Cavendish Laboratory is being made possible by £75 million of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The project, which is expected to be completed in 2022, will help strengthen the University’s position as a leading site for physics research and will provide a top-class facility for the nation, with much of the research equipment made available to other institutions.

“This project is the physical embodiment of our aspirations for the University,” said the Vice-Chancellor in his remarks. “Crucially, it will be built to encourage inter-disciplinarily; to break down the traditional boundaries between disciplines. In short, this project will allow Cavendish to continue being – as it has been since 1874 — the home of discovery.”

The building has also been designed to encourage collaboration and will host public events to support the extensive programme of work with schools and the general public.

French construction specialist Bouygues, who are building the new Cavendish Laboratory, hosted the event. Chair of Bouygues UK, Fabienne Viala and RIBA Vice-president Caroline Buckingham, joined the Vice-Chancellor and guests from the University, contractor team and the local community for the ceremony.

“Bouygues UK and our sister company Bouygues Energies & Services have been involved from the start on this exciting scheme, working alongside the University of Cambridge’s existing project team to develop proposals for a new world-class laboratory,” said Viala. “It is exciting to break ground on this project that will see us bringing innovation, a collaborative approach and our technical expertise to create a new home for major academic research.”

The new development will combine with the Department of Physics’ new strategic plan and research goals. The building and new strategic plan represent a renaissance of the way the department carry out physics research and achieve their research goals.

“This is a great step in the development of physics research and learning at the University of Cambridge,” said Professor Andy Parker, Head of the Department of Physics. “We look forward to moving into our new facilities and opening our doors to the wider research community and the public to increase understanding and foster discovery.”

The Vice-Chancellor added: “What we are doing here today will give future generations of scientists, from Cambridge and elsewhere in the UK, the opportunity to keep making those leaps in knowledge for which this University – and this country – are rightly celebrated.”

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