York St Johns University, The Creative Centre

York, England

Project Summary

This project built a new 180-seat auditorium and flexible teaching facility at York St Johns University, The Creative Centre. This first required the demolition of three blocks of 1960s student accommodation. Today, The Creative Centre spans three floors, and houses specialist teaching spaces including a TV studio, music recording studio, music practice rooms, and computer suites.

This project was a testament to the values of the University and its contractors. A variety of features allow the building to adapt to varying access requirements. By applying Passivhaus principles, the development achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating of environmental sustainability.

MGAC's Role

MGAC provided project management, cost management, and health + safety services. We fulfilled all specialist fit-out requirements of the main contract, including many acoustically complex recording and practice spaces and the theatre’s performance systems.

We were the client’s trusted custodian from start to finish, from preparing initial tender of works and helping with planning, to overseeing the post-completion process. We were thrilled to take an active role, appointing the design team, reviewing package costs, and regularly interrogating site quality control and compliance.


The team faced some significant challenges on this project. After engaging the client with a target base cost of £15M, we were made aware this should include VAT—effectively cutting our budget by 17%. To deliver the proposed functionality to the agreed standard, we had to adapt quickly, without losing focus or momentum.

So, we worked with the design team to maximise the value of the building’s atrium. Initially conceived as a transitional space, it became multi-functional. This creative solution is now celebrated as a space for creative collaboration.

Success Factors

At post-tender stage, we achieved approximately £1M of mutually targeted and engineered savings with the preferred bidder, with no sacrifice of the clients’ project objectives or the resulting BREEAM accreditation.

As both a subcontractor within an architect-led multidisciplinary team and an independent advisor to the client, we provided valuable, carefully-balanced perspectives to all stakeholders. We led teams through two significant rounds of value engineering, always with the master vision in sight.