The Queens Building was opened in December 1993 by Her Majesty the Queen, in whose honour it is named. In 1989 the university had made a commitment to urban regeneration and economic stimulation, working in partnership with Leicester City Council. In addition, at this date several university buildings were considered unfit for purpose. In particular the Engineering and Manufacture buildings were deficient in mechanical and electrical services.
The question was asked - could a new Engineering and Manufacture building, which would generate enormous quantities of heat, be a 'green', environmentally friendly construction? The design brief asked for traditional, labour intensive construction to help combat local unemployment, as well as an environmentally sensitive and innovative building. Architects Peake Short (later Short Ford) were hired.
From the outset the architects aimed to create a building that reduced energy consumption to the minimum possible. Ventilation is achieved by a natural stack effect unaided by fans or air conditioning, lighting is mostly natural and sound is baffled by the brickwork. Staff of the School of Engineering and Manufacture were closely involved in the design process. Initial focus was entirely on functional and technological considerations, and the unusual external appearance of the building is a product of this functionality.
The building won several awards including RIBA Education Building of the Year 1995; Quality in Brickwork Award 1994; Civic Trust Commendation 1995 and the Independent newspaper 'Green Building of the Year' 1995.