The opening coincides with the announcement of two major gifts towards the project; £3.35m from the Ogden Trust and £1.5m from the Wolfson Foundation.
The original Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, established by an earlier £2m gift from the Ogden Trust, was opened in 2002. It incorporates two institutes: the Institute for Computational Cosmology, one of the world’s premier theoretical cosmology groups, and the only Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology globally.
The Ogden Centre now houses integrated research into the fundamental properties of the universe from the smallest scales of elementary particles to the largest scales of the universe as a whole.
The new building has been made necessary by the Centre’s rapid growth and academic success, and will enable it to maintain its leading global position in the decades ahead.
The new Centre building will be located next to the Physics department on South Road, Durham. Residents will be able to have their say on the designs at two public consultations this January at the University’s Calman Centre.
As announced last summer, the world-renowned architectural practice Studio Daniel Libeskind (SDL) is designing the new building. SDL has designed numerous projects of global significance, including the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the master plan for Ground Zero in New York.
Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Durham is at the forefront of Physics in Europe and these transformational gifts will ensure that we remain leaders in unravelling the secrets of the Universe. We are indebted and grateful to The Ogden Trust, The Wolfson Foundation and our alumni, who are supporting us in this endeavour.”
Professor Martin Ward, Head of Durham’s Department of Physics and Temple Chevallier Chair of Astronomy, said: “This new building will provide a tremendously stimulating environment and foster even closer synergies between the two Institutes’ research areas.”
Sir Peter Ogden said: “The Wolfson Foundation’s support is exciting for all of us as it will further Durham’s position as one of the leading research centres for Fundamental Physics. A new world class building designed by an iconic international architect and now supported by one of the UK’s most important scientific Foundations”.
Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of The Wolfson Foundation, commented: “We are delighted again to be working with Durham University. The Wolfson Foundation supports and promotes excellence: in this case, infrastructure supporting research of the highest international quality. The new Centre will not only allow outstanding research to flourish but will also be housed in a distinctive and exciting building.”