Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD)

A flagship project to create a world-leading teaching, learning and research campus.

The Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) is the University of Manchester’s flagship project to develop the engineers and innovators of tomorrow, breeding collaboration and forward-thinking research techniques. Balfour Beatty was originally appointed, via The University of Manchester Construction Partnership Framework, to deliver this £300 million project in 2015 under a pre-construction services agreement, with the main contract then agreed in 2017.

MECD is one of the largest, single construction projects ever undertaken by a higher education institution in the UK. It has transformed the way the University educates engineers in response to the needs of the fast-changing global economy.

It is home to four of the University’s engineering schools and two research institutes from the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

The buildings include extensive, modern teaching spaces that reflect the changing demands of students and staff for mobile and flexible learning. Cutting-edge technologies enable students across all disciplines to engage with the new modes of teaching. The research facilities are home to a community of 8,000 students, researchers, academics, and professional serviced staff, and will enable students to shape their own learning environment.

Furthering the University's sustainability goals

To meet the University’s Environment and Sustainability goals, the project was the first to appoint a dedicated Environmental Sustainability Advisor. This helped to develop and drive the University’s comprehensive sustainability targets throughout the project’s lifecycle, including achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating, a new active travel hub and a green roof.


Students, researchers, academics and professional services staff


Engineering schools


Research institutes

Multiple buildings providing excellent teaching and research facilities

The development incorporates a number of existing and new buildings. The eight-storey 80,000sqm Engineering Building A, Engineering Building B, and the James Chadwick Building (on Upper Brook Street), refurbished and extended Grade II listed Oddfellows Hall and the York Street Building.

MECD is home to purpose-designed blended lecture theatres, teaching laboratories, student workshops and a range of spaces to support the ambitious outreach and social engagement initiatives.

The lightning bolt at the heart of Manchester

As part of the scheme, the team designed and constructed a new high-voltage laboratory to house a lightning impulse generator which is capable of emitting a lightning strike of up 2 million volts.

To ensure everyone's safety, earthing, heating, and space requirements were discussed in detail with a specialist consultant. To achieve the required earthing readings, 20m-long earthing rods were installed deep into the ground and a faraday cage was installed into the fabric of the building to electrically isolate the lab from the building structure and fabric to safeguard the users.

The team also built an electron microscopy (EM) centre with 22 electron microscopes to perform atomic resolution imaging and cell testing. The EM Suite is located in the south basement with the structure carefully designed to protect the microscopes from vibration from passing traffic and specialist rooms created to isolate them from noise and vibration from other building users.

Giving something back

Throughout the project there has been significant focus on spending locally, providing local employment, apprenticeships, and work experience opportunities.

The project has provided excellent training opportunities which include Construction Academy pre-employment courses, 11 unpaid work experience placements and 23 careers focused activities delivered to University of Manchester students. We also delivered 34 STEM and industry specific careers activities to local schools, colleges, or employment groups.

Keeping the local community at the heart of what we do, we contributed £20,000 to the University of Manchester Community Investment Fund, which enabled 50 local community groups to be supported, and raised £26,719 for charity. We also created:

  • 119 jobs for local, unemployed people
  • 116 new and sustained apprenticeships
  • 12 graduate roles
  • 5 paid internships
  • 100% guaranteed interviews for University of Manchester students
  • 10 mentoring opportunities