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SPS PhD students move into new George Square home this week

The School of Social and Political Science PhD community starts moving into its new home at 27-28 George Square this week, now that extensive renovation of the two five-storey Georgian townhouses is complete.

The townhouses on the west side of George Square date back to the 18th century and have been completely transformed and restored to their former glory. They will be occupied from today (13 March) by PhD students and associated staff.

The buildings will also be named after African medic and freedom fighter Dr Kesaveloo Goonam, after a vote by PhD students and staff picked her from a list of some of the University’s greatest women.

Professor Linda McKie, Dean and Head of the School of Social and Political Science, said: “This is a proud moment for the school and our postgraduate community. The opening of the buildings heralds a new stage in our provision for postgraduate colleagues and their research and study needs.”

The project was of particular interest to the school’s own Sue Renton, Student Experience Officer, as the site is her former family home. The Renton family lived there from 1965-1987.

George Square

The 14-month renovation project was carried out by the University Estates Department.

Building Conservation Manager David Casey said: “The building presented us with a significant conservation challenge. We wanted to restore as many of its original features as possible so it would be harmonious with the heritage of its surroundings. Originally two townhouses, numbers 27-28, they had been knocked together to form one building and over the years the interior spaces had been changed around quite a bit. We were delighted to be given the opportunity to restore the building as sympathetically as possible and create a space that invites learning and collaboration.”

David and his team repaired damaged cornices and ceiling roses, dados and skirting boards, and reinstated many of the original fireplaces. Work to the exterior of the building has included overhauling the Georgian sash windows and replacing the astragal panes in the original wooden window frames. The roof has been reslated, the dormer windows rebuilt and chimneys repaired.

George Square

New LED high-efficiency lighting has been installed throughout the building, incorporating movement-sensor-controlled lights. Period-style radiators have been installed and high-efficiency energy-saving condenser boiler units have replaced the previous central heating system. Traditional column radiators have been used throughout.

Students from the School of Social and Political Science were consulted on the décor for the building and they chose the ‘Georgian’ blue wall colour in the main stairwells along with other wall colours, floor coverings, furniture and blinds.

One very important aspect of the renovation project was to bring the building up to modern health and safety standards so a new fire alarm system has been installed, the fire doors upgraded and fire escape routes clearly marked.

The building also boasts three kitchen areas and student breakout spaces in the basement together with gender neutral toilets.

Around 110 postgraduate students will use the building.

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