National Glass Centre Repairs will cost £45 million, the University has confirmed

Structural issues at Sunderland’s National Glass Centre (NGC) will cost over £45m to repair, the University of Sunderland has confirmed.

A recent external review of the building, commissioned by the University, discovered that a multi-million pound investment would be needed to address structural issues, including £14m to repair the roof of the riverside structure.

The University, which has owned the NGC since 2010, said repairs would cost in the region of £45m and structural problems have been ongoing since the building opened in 1998. It added that the problems will continue and grow as time goes on.

Back in January the University announced plans to relocate the NGC to a new site as a result of the damage to the building. It added that over the years the University has needed to undertake a series of works to address structural-related issues in the NGC, including the closure of public access to the roof.

A spokesperson for University of Sunderland said: “There have been ongoing structural issues since the building opened in 1998 and, in recent years, the University has needed to undertake a series of works to address these. These issues have also impacted visitor experience and presented challenges to staff and students. An external review of the structure found these problems will continue and grow as time goes on.

“It has been estimated that repairs to the roof of the NGC would cost around £14m, with all repairs needed to the building costing in the region of £45m.”

Now, the University is working with partners at Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Culture to explore new city centre locations for the NGC. Culture House, a new community building based at Keel Square, Sunderland, is one of the sites being discussed to house the NGC.

The NGC is home to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) and the University’s glass and ceramics academic programmes. While the future of the current building remains unsure, the University estimates the NGC move will be concluded sometime over the next three years.

Until then the current building will remain open and operating as normal, the University confirmed. For academic work in the NGC, Sunderland University is working with staff to carry out a thorough assessment of the equipment and facilities that would be required to support academic activity in glass and ceramics in another building and the associated cost implications.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, said: “The University is committed, as far as it is practically possible and viable, to maintaining within the city the exhibition and display of glass art, alongside academic work in glass and ceramics.

“As well as undertaking internal review work on these matters, we are also in active discussion with Sunderland City Council about alternative locations for the activities currently undertaken within the NGC and NGCA. Hopefully, we will have more details to share in the coming months.

“I recognise this is an uncertain time for staff and students based at the NGC, but we need to act now, given that the University is not in a position to spend the millions of pounds required to secure the longer-term future of the current NGC building.”