Vijay Patel Building

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fletcher Building was constructed as an extension to the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology, then based almost entirely in the Hawthorn Building. In preparation for the anticipated change to polytechnic status it was recognised that more teaching space was urgently needed. The building was designed by the Leicester City Architects' Department. The ten storey high rise tower surrounded by low one or two storey buildings was intended to provide a dynamic contrast. An inner courtyard evoked a collegiate feel and initially held a water feature, although this was later drained. The tower held studio teaching spaces while workshops, canteen, offices and lecture theatre were based in the low rise.

Fletcher was noted for its paternoster lift, a type which moves continuously between floors while users jump on and off. This was replaced during refurbishment work in 2006.

Fletcher was opened in November 1966 by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The building was intended to house art and design subjects and the name Fletcher was chosen to reflect this. Benjamin Fletcher was Headmaster of the Leicester School of Art from 1900 to 1920. His headmastership transformed arts and crafts teaching at the school while he was a nationally respected artist in his own right.

The Fletcher complex was extended towards the canal with the construction of facilities for catering and the Student Union in 1975. The extension was designed by a team from the Polytechnic Study Group in the Architects and Building branch of the Department of Education and Science. It was part of a national study into the way the new polytechnics could provide communal facilities for students and staff. Known as the Union Building, it included a concourse housing a bank, shop and NUS services, an arena for music and drama, a coffee bar and games area, and offices for the careers service.

In 1993 a Student Health Centre was constructed in the central courtyard. The Centre was designed by Bundey & Rodgers of Market Harborough in a consciously ornamented style meant to give the building a distinct identity by contrast to the stern style of the tower. The Centre moved to a different location in 2010 and the building was used for offices.

In 2014 the University embarked on a major renovation of the Fletcher Building. It was extended towards the canal and state-of-the-art studio and workshop spaces have been included. Now called the Vijay Patel Building after Dr Vijay Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Waymade Healthcare and a graduate of DMU's Leicester School of Pharmacy, the building won the 2016 award for "New Build complementing the Historic Built Environment of the City" from the Leicester Civic Society.

Related Material

The Union Building extension was opened at the same time as Eric Wood and information about the building features in the opening ceremony brochure (reference D/037/02/04/005). A conference was held about 'communal accommodation' in Polytechnics that used the Union Building as an example, see D/037/01/02/007.