Goldsmiths’ Centre one step closer to opening

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“Topping out” ceremony held for new training and education centre.

A special "topping out" ceremony has been performed at the site of the Goldsmiths’ Centre, due to open this autumn, as the building’s five floors are completed.

Prime warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Michael Galsworthy was joined by Martin Drury, chairman of the board of trustees of the Goldsmiths’ Centre and Peter Taylor, the Centre’s director designate to witnedd the “topping out” ceremony at the new Goldsmiths’ Centre building in Clerkenwell, London.

The Prime Warden described the occasion, which took place on Tuesday: "An event of major importance for the Company and the Board of Trustees of the Centre as it represents a significant point in the journey towards the realisation of this ground-breaking initiative."

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The Goldsmiths’ Centre represents the largest ever single investment by the Goldsmiths’ Company in support of the craft and industry. With a total capital investment of circa £17.5 million, this major project is a demonstrable example of how an ancient livery company, in partnership with the London Development Agency, is taking a fundamental interest in not only preserving the past but also investing in the future.

When finished the centre will comprise a multi-faceted amenity, and will be home to a new training and education facility to be known as the Goldsmiths’ Institute which will offer a range of education and training opportunities including a pre-apprentice course for young people who are interested in pursuing a career as a goldsmith, a a post-graduate Professional Design Programme concentrating on developing creative design-led goldsmithing businesses.

The Centre will also provide workshops, studios, conference, seminar and exhibition space and a café. A regular programme of related specialist exhibitions and events, which will be open to the general public, will be run throughout the year.

The purpose built facility incorporates an existing Victorian grade II listed structure, one of the first London Board Schools built in 1872. Architect John Lyall was challenged to successfully and sympathetically combine a restoration project with a new build of a five storey adjoining block, which is joined to the restored school via a glazed atrium. Contractors Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish & Southern Ltd have been responsible for the building work and have been on site since early summer 2010.

Deeply rooted in tradition and history, “topping out” is an important event in the construction industry as it celebrates a key moment in the physical progress of a building, in this case it is the fact that the concrete core, with all five floors of the new Centre, are in place.

In front of an assembled party Bob Clark, Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish & Southern Ltd’s managing director outlined the progress made by his team and said: "Balfour Beatty is delighted to be celebrating this important milestone with our client the Goldsmiths’ Centre, the design team, subcontractors and suppliers, and we are all committed to handing over this high-quality scheme this autumn."

Galsworthy responded by thanking both the Balfour Beatty workforce and the architect John Lyall for all their efforts. He then fulfilled the symbolic act of ceremony by smoothing out the last bit of concrete on the external structure of the building, after which he was presented with an engraved trowel to commemorate the event.

Drury said of the new centre:  "There are lots of young people in the country today who would like to embark on careers as jewellers and silversmiths but are finding it increasingly hard to identify suitable avenues of training. The Goldsmiths’ Centre has been specifically designed to provide a unique range of high quality and relevant education and training opportunities to meet the needs of aspiring young craftsmen in the 21st century."

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