Sharing stories of Imperial's community
Last updated: March 26, 2013
21 February 2012
2 February 2012
Crowds of Imperial staff, students and members of the public braved the cold on Wednesday afternoon to watch the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the Welsh Guards, a mechanical elephant, and a team of somersaulting acrobats parade up the street for the official opening of Exhibition Road.
The parade culminated outside the College, with the Mayor cutting a ribbon, held by four young people from Whizz Kids (a charity supporting children who use wheelchairs) followed by a reception in the Main Entrance. The event was also attended by leaders of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster.
The Exhibition Road project was formally completed late last year after three years of construction work and today kerbs, barriers and street clutter have been removed. The aim has been to improve access for all users and in particular for those using wheelchairs or push chairs. Cars have also been slowed by the introduction of a 20mph speed limit.
Speaking about the transformation at the drinks reception afterwards the Mayor said: “It’s been seven years since The Guardian condemned this space as a “weak urban canyon” and yet today if you look outside pilgrims from around the world come to marvel at the transformation – not just brilliant international students who come to Imperial – one of the greatest universities in the world – but also urban design specialists from Beijing, Korea, New Zealand and Germany who have come to admire the fantastic shared space that has been created.”
“The cumulative effect makes the area more liveable and more attractive and will bring greater income, investment and tourism to the area.” He added that according to an independent report by the London School of Economics the new scheme will bring extra income amounting to around £50 – 140 million per year to South Kensington.
Talking to Reporter about what the transformation will mean for future Imperial students he said: “I hope very much that Imperial students will enjoy the extra amenity we have helped to bring to one of the greatest universities in the world!”
One of the girls holding the ribbon at the event talked about what it meant to her and other wheelchair users. “When we came here two years ago it was completely different. To cross the roads as an independent wheelchair user was near impossible as there were no drop curbs and there were so many people. Now having the roads as they are we can come independently to visit the museums and not have to worry about access. We can have a great day out just like everyone else.”
Councillor Warwick Lightfoot, Cabinet Member for Finance at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said: “It’s exciting to celebrate this worthwhile investment and see an unattractive streetscape transformed and how it enhances extraordinary institutions like Imperial, the V&A and the Science Museum.”
— Emily Ross-Joannou, Communications and Development
25 March 2010
The transformation of Exhibition Road is underway, with repaving work taking place outside the South Kensington Campus. The vision for the £25 million project is to make Exhibition Road the most accessible cultural destination in the world, revitalising the streetscape and ensuring it can accommodate the 11.5 million visitors that flock to the area each year.
11 March 2010
Plans to develop a new facade for the South Kensington Campus on Exhibition Road (covered in Reporter issue 202) have been postponed, the Rector announced to staff last week. The new Exhibition Road Building, designed by top architects Foster and Partners and a key element of the programme to transform the ‘South East Quadrant’ (SEQ) of the campus, would have offered new facilities to the Faculty of Engineering and exhibition space.
17 February 2010
Exhibition Road has long suffered from pedestrian overcrowding, poor disabled access and dangerously fast traffic. Local councils and the Mayor of London have recently launched a massive £25 million scheme to redevelop Exhibition Road into a single surface that pedestrians and vehicles both share, helping to reduce congestion and traffic speeds.