Education in Falkirk is about to receive another boost with the opening next January of Forth Valley College’s new Falkirk facility.
The £78 million project will deliver a building which will be the envy of academics and students from around the country,
It will replace the current property which was initially known as Falkirk Technical College when it first opened its doors over 55 years ago.
The campus will provide a unique facility for students to be educated in, but just as importantly a building for the entire community.
Principal Dr Ken Thomson has had a 25 year association with the college and is delighted that he is helping to deliver the state-of-the-art new building for the Falkirk area.
Work began in the autumn of 2017 but that was the culmination of years of planning.
Everything that was in what was known as the Middlefield Building was decanted into the main property across the road and demolition work followed before builders Balfour Beatty arrived on site.
Dr Thomson said: “This may seem like a new project but it has been 15 years in the planning. Every time I walk around the construction site I am totally in awe of what is being achieved and what will be delivered.
“This isn’t just going to be a legacy for the students and staff but for the entire community.
“Now I’m looking forward to the buzz in the building when everyone is in place.”
The 22,000 square metre campus is the third and final piece in the transformation of Forth Valley College. The new Alloa campus opened in 2011 and the Stirling facility one year later.
Falkirk will complete the estates development programme with the iconic building bordering the Helix Park and Falkirk Council’s proposed Gateway development, as well as being close to Falkirk Stadium.
The principal said lessons had been learned from the previous projects and it would be beneficial for the Falkirk facility which will house 2000 full-time students and 450 members of staff.
He added: “In the next couple of weeks we will be doing tours of the development for staff to let them see what we are delivering. Interest has been phenomenal and we have had to add extra dates.
“Our contractor Balfour Beatty has been very accommodating but we are aware that is a busy building site and we don’t want to interfere with the tight timetable which will see this facility handed over to us before the end of 2019.”
Both the college and the main contractor are aware that the building work is taken place close to homes in both the Bog Road area and Middlefield. They have provided regular meetings and newsletters to inform residents of exactly what is going on – as well as installing a community viewing window in the fencing around the project so people can see for themselves the progress.
Those looking through will discover a unique building which will be innovative, energy efficient, sustainable and provide an “exceptional” learning experience for those attending.
The campus will have a focus on science and engineering with advanced level courses in business computing, construction, sport, hairdressing, beauty therapy, healthcare and early years.
There will be advanced technology to heat and cool the building; design that allows rooms to be made larger or smaller as needed; and a event and exhibition space, as well as conference facilities.
There is a main teaching and sports block which includes classrooms, staff facilities and a gymnasium, along with a ‘super workshop’ area. Both are linked with a glass corridor with the use of natural light prevalent throughout the entire building.
The state-of-the art classrooms will give an opportunity for “fun learning”, according to Dr Thomson.
“There will be a modern approach to learning which was always in our plans.”
He said it was vitally important that the community felt involved in the new campus.
“Currently we’re open a couple of nights a week during term time but I hope that will change and this fabulous building will be something that everyone can feel they have ownership of and make use of.
“This building is going to have a tremendous impact on Falkirk and Forth Valley and we want everyone to make the most of all the opportunities it offers.”