Joseph Black Building Image 3

University of Glasgow, Joseph Black Building


The University of Glasgow aimed to enhance its position as one of the world's great, broad-based, research-intensive universities by refurbishing and updating the iconic Joseph Black Building.

Client Requirements

These projects would consist of the relocation of sensitive laboratory equipment to enable the external facade fabric repairs, and the internal fire protection upgrades.

The requirements included the phased relocation of approximately 400 staff, to temporary accommodation, and would consist of the moving of sensitive lab equipment, offices, teaching materials, resources and equipment.

Once the replacement and fabric works were complete, the equipment would need to be moved back to their original locations.

The project also involved the internal relocations, decommissioning and recommissioning of office furniture equipment (PC’s, monitors, small printers), and a variety of scientific equipment.


During the project, Pickfords’ project management team was presented with the continuous challenge of operating in extreme weather conditions. The impact of the pandemic and the resulting lockdown meant that Pickfords had to quickly adapt operational practices for the safety of the operational team and the University’s staff and students.


Communication was a key factor in the planning and success of this project, so Pickfords produced a key contact list very early in the planning process.

Following a planning meeting with the University a move programme was agreed that confirmed what was moving, when, and where to within the Glasgow campus. This also formed the basis of the future planning meetings and underpinned the communication of the project to the staff, students and all other project sponsors.

Pickfords supplied and delivered all resources necessary to protect and move the University’s sensitive equipment.

The project team arranged for the delivery and collection of crates from individual floors, labs or offices as specified by the University.

Following pre-removal planning meetings and full pre-move site walk-rounds, the project team agreed the move principles, methodologies, and co-ordination with the University representatives.

Pickfords provided the University with a flexible resource for this project, to counteract changing scenarios of the project that took place, both due to weather conditions, as well as the operational disruption of COVID 19.

Pickfords packed, relocated, unpacked and placed items including: 

  • General office and departmental filing
  • Teaching resources and materials
  • Laboratory equipment (which included specialist lab packing to minimise dust and debris).

Approach to health and safety in a 'live environment'

The health and safety of the all staff, students, public and the operational team was a high priority for the University’s management team.

Within this environment students continued in the building while the relocations were taking place. To mitigate any risk, Pickfords stopped working while the classes were out during breaks, lunch or as students vacated the building at the end of the day.


Despite last-minute changes affecting the refurbishment works, Pickfords was able to adjust and adapt the relocation programme by establishing effective contingency measures.

The project was completed on time and within budget through diligent project management and regular communication with all stakeholders.

Pickfords’ removal teams provided this service while working within the University’s and its own Covid safety guidelines to ensure the safety of all. This included the safe use of PPE, frequent washing and sanitising of hands, and the daily washing of uniforms.

As a result of this successful relocation project, further phases of this refurbishment project will continue to be managed by Pickfords.

Glasgow University is well on its way in achieving its long term vision to provide its staff and students with an extraordinary upgrade and refurbishment that sensitively respects its history, whilst also creating a world class campus for its current and future generations of students.

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