The Milner Centre, which will be the first of its kind for evolutionary science research, has been funded thanks to a £5 million philanthropic donation from Bath alumnus, Dr Jonathan Milner, who was present to mark the start of this exciting next phase in development.

Shaping society’s views on evolution

Tuesday’s event was an opportunity to set out the vision for the Centre towards shaping society’s views on evolution and its many applications. The first turf was cut by Dr Milner and President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL.

Based within the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, headed by Professor Laurence Hurst, the Milner Centre will focus on three key strands: research that asks fundamental questions about evolution; impact that finds new technological and clinical applications for evolutionary science research; and outreach and public engagement about evolutionary science in its widest sense.

Coinciding with the turf cutting event, significant new research funding from The Leverhulme Trust and The Wolfson Foundation worth £1.5 million was also announced for the Milner Centre.

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Breakwell said: “With the start of building work coupled with this week’s funding announcements there is a real sense of momentum around the Milner Centre for Evolution. The new Centre will establish Bath as a unique hub of excellence for world-class evolutionary research and help us grow our research strength in this area in the years to come.”

Dr Jonathan Milner added: “It’s fantastic to see the building work start on the new Milner Centre for Evolution at the University which is an exciting phase in its development. By coupling a truly innovative and unique building design with the kinds of research and outreach activity planned, I’m convinced that the Centre can play a truly world-class role in fostering new understandings about evolution.”

Designing the new Milner Centre

The team behind the Milner Centre has been in regular contact with local architects, Stride Treglown, and the remainder of the project team, as plans for the building have taken shape. Key to this has been ensuring that the research and wider activities have been front and centre of thinking throughout the design process.

Helping it to achieve its objectives, the new building will boast a large central breakout space – the social heart to the Milner Centre – designed to encourage collaboration, deliver the outreach programme and give lectures. In addition, principal investigator and postdoctoral / postgraduate offices will be supported by new research laboratories, providing advanced research facilities.

The building will also integrate patterning in the façades that reflect genome alignment describing the DNA code of various key organisms, providing identity and architectural detail to the building.

Professor Laurence Hurst, Milner Centre Director, explained: “This week’s turf cutting ceremony marks a real milestone in developments for the Milner Centre for Evolution. At the end of this building project scheduled for 2018, we will have a whole new space on campus designed with our research and outreach front of mind. This will allow our already well established programme of activities to grow further and help us as researchers to reach new audiences, locally, nationally and internationally, with our work.”

Professor Rod Scott, Head of our Department of Biology and Biochemistry added: “Our new centre will enable the Department to produce more ground-breaking research and to promote to the wider world an aspect of biology that is fundamental to all that we do.”

Gary Milliner, Director at Stride Treglown, the architects behind the project, commented: “What’s been great about the design process for the Milner Centre for Evolution is Stride Treglown’s engagement with the University’s Biology and Biochemistry Departmental team. This iterative and enjoyable design dialogue has enabled us to deliver an exciting building design that creates a collaborative environment for researchers to gather and share ideas.

“Stride Treglown is now engaged in the construction stage with the contractor WRW turning the building vision into reality. We cannot wait to see the building completed and being used and enjoyed in the way that we have explored with Centre members to further their intellectual expertise.”

The appointed contractor, WRW, is very excited about the opportunity to construct this building for the University. The Department of Estates look forward to working with WRW and the project team to deliver this milestone project.

To find out more about the Milner Centre for Evolution see: