The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts opened in 1996 to forge a new approach to performing arts training. It was co-founded by their Lead Patron Sir Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty (LIPA’s Principal), and is housed in his old school, which underwent a multi-million pound renovation to transform it into a state-of-the-art performing arts higher education institution.
The client instructed the same design team members to convert the adjacent former arts school, attended by John Lennon, into an extension of LIPA creating multiple rehearse studios and a performance theatre as part of the current phase one works.
Thomasons was appointed to provide civil and structural consultancy services for the project. The main challenge to the project was to provide cost effective structural solutions in creating large rehearsal studios and a storey height performance theatre within an existing Grade II listed structure.
These have been achieved by making use of and adapting the existing structure wherever possible. The main difficulty was due to the location of these areas as they are all located within the internal site boundary away from main roads and access.
As part of the design the introduction of new steelwork to create clear floors spanning the width of building has been used to provide temporary works alleviating the need for separate temporary works to facilitate the safe demolition of internal load bearing masonry walls and piers.
The scheme also included a central atrium created to provide circulation to all floors and the different wings of the building; this also provides escape routes by linking the existing fire escape route in the current LIPA building. The atrium has a glazed external wall and roof, again the use of the existing structure where possible is key to providing cost effective structure.