Construction of YSP new £3.8 million visitor centre has begun

01 May 2017

The building – designed by architects Feilden Fowles and constructed by Yorkshire-based construction company William Birch – will build capacity at the award-winning visitor attraction which attracts around 500,000 people every year and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2017.

Scheduled for completion at the end of March 2018 and opening in the summer, the new centre will enhance the visitor experience at the southern entrance to the Park, less than one mile away from M1 Junction 38, and contribute to YSP’s long-term financial sustainability.

The environmentally friendly building has been designed to make minimum impact on the site and, in common with previous YSP developments, to fit sympathetically with the historic landscape. It will comprise a 140m2 restaurant, 125m2 gallery space, an 80m2 public foyer and a 50m2 shop.

A world-class gallery space will give visitors access to some of the greatest art of the 20th and 21st centuries through a changing programme of temporary exhibitions. The centre will also increase physical, intellectual and emotional access to the landscape, ecology and heritage of the historic 500-acre Bretton Estate, as well as the sculpture presented elsewhere in the Park.

The new restaurant will continue to offer visitors high quality service while a new shop will extend YSP’s successful retail operation, providing opportunities for both artists and designers. The building will be well insulated and naturally ventilated, featuring an air-source heat pump for heating and a dense green roof. It will incorporate a pioneering low energy environmental control system using a passive humidity buffer to maintain favourable conditions in the gallery.

The new visitor centre is an important addition to the Park’s physical infrastructure, which began with the opening of Longside Gallery in 2001; the main visitor centre in 2002; the Underground Gallery in 2005; the transformation of the estate Kennel Block into a learning centre and café in 2011; the restoration of the Chapel in 2014; and most recently the refurbishment of the Bothy Gallery in 2016.

The project is supported by Arts Council England, Wakefield Council, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation and other funders who wish to remain anonymous.

Guy Laurie, Director of Operations at YSP said:
“We’re excited to start construction in our 40th anniversary year on a building which will be an important part of our future. The new visitor centre is a reflection of our ambition to increase long-term resilience and sustainability by building audiences, further developing our artistic programme, and increasing visitor income.”

Fergus Feilden, Director, Feilden Fowles said:
"We are thrilled the project is starting on site with William Birch Construction. The design remains on budget and retains the crafted and bespoke elements which make it unique. Construction will take a year and the visitor centre will open by summer 2018, sitting alongside eminent previous projects at the Sculpture Park.”

Gemma Shahjahan, Business Development Director of William Birch said:
“Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a huge asset to the arts and leisure scene in the Yorkshire region and our project team are looking forward to being a key part of delivering the next phase of its exciting development. We have built an enviable portfolio of award-winning, sustainable and striking visitor facilities in Yorkshire and we are delighted to add this highly prestigious project to that repertoire”.