As most of you already know we are refurbishing a building on Stratford High Street, which will replace our building in Queen Square from September next year. In the last couple of weeks people have begun to stop me in the corridor to ask for the address of the new building so that they can plan and try out their journeys to Stratford. The address is 275 to 285 High Street, Stratford, E15 2TF. The excellent local transport links were a big factor in our choice of this site for our new home. It is less than 10 mins walk from the main station at Stratford which has underground, overground, DLR and National rail services, and only 2 mins from Stratford High Street DLR Station. There is also a bus station outside of the main Stratford station.
Our lovely architects AWW have partnered with us to come up with a design which reflects our quirky, friendly non corporate approach and provides practical functional spaces.
The new building will give us five additional classrooms, specialist Art, textiles, Sculpture& Ceramics and Craft rooms that are much more generous in size than the ones we have now. In addition to a fitness and performance room, a specialist classroom for digital design and an IT room. All the learning space are large and light with natural ventilation and so will provide us with the right kind of spaces for groups now and into the future. The new building has other features that I know a many of you will welcome, such as, a dedicated space with access to IT, for you to use for practice and homework, seating spaces on each floor which can be used as waiting before classes, extra breakout spaces or for socialising with your friends from class. Every floor has level access to the classrooms from two proper passenger lifts that run from the very bottom to the very top floors of the building. We have lovely Café space on the ground floor. The building has excellent green credentials which include solar panels on the roof, thermally efficient glass, and sustainably sourced materials. The building has been planned using the BREEAM framework the leading assessment and certification framework for sustainable construction and we expect to achieve a rating of excellent once it is completed. We have also worked with the Metropolitan Police Safer by Design initiative to ensure we are building in safety and security for us all.
It is also really pleasing that the Adult Education Centre and the Mary Ward Legal Centre will once again share a home, which hasn’t been possible since the Legal Centre Moved out of 42 Queen Square in the mid 1990’s. We are looking forward to the fact that both of our Centres in Stratford and at Blackfriars will be home to full range of Mary Ward Settlements work, with courses for adults legal advice and community projects taking place at both.
As I am sure you can appreciate completing a project of this scale was never going to be easy and with the added difficulties and issues brought by the Pandemic, we have had at least our fair share of delays and cost increases. Though we are heading into the home straight and the building now has its 2 new floors added, its watertight and work has begun on the internal walls and services. We expect the building work to be completed by the end of April 2023 and we will be opening in the summer term for tasters and open days
We really want as many of you as possible to come with us to the new Centre and we are happy to talk to about how you can get there or to answer any other questions you might have. Most importantly we want to reassure you that the character, atmosphere, and values of Mary Ward will be taking up residence at the heart of the new building, at the same time we do. As the building work progresses, we are planning to offer group trips to Stratford with a chance to have a look at the new building and to get to know the area, in the spring and summer term, we will let you have details of these nearer the time.
I know that many of us will have mixed feelings about leaving Queen Square, it has been a happy home for Mary Ward for forty years. I personally have worked in the building for 26 years and loved every minute of it, but I am sure that together we can make the new Stratford Mary Ward just as happy a place and a genuine new home from home for us all.