A striking new landmark building at the gateway to the University of Leeds has been made possible thanks to a substantial donation in memory of Arnold Ziff.
Funding for the new Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building on Beechgrove Terrace has come from the family's charitable foundation in recognition of the couple's commitment to the University.
The family's businesses, Town Centre Securities plc and Stylo plc, have also contributed to what is the largest donation ever received by the University. It rekindles a tradition for major benefactions which have shaped the institution's development over its 102-year history.
The Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building, which will house a range of student services, will present a world-class face to the community it serves - the University's past, present and future students, its partners and the region.
The building will also represent, more visibly than any other project, the ambitious plan for Leeds to rank among the world's top 50 universities by 2015.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur said: "It is fitting that such an iconic building, standing alongside landmarks like the Parkinson Building and Brotherton Library, should be made possible by an act of philanthropy which echoes the significance of those early 20th century donations. We are tremendously grateful to the Ziff family for their continuing interest and generosity to the University."
Throughout his life, Arnold Ziff was also known for his philanthropy across the Leeds community - and was a major figure in the history of the University, giving unstintingly of his time during 11 years on our governing body, council. He brought his clear-sighted wisdom and business acumen to a council committee which developed opportunities to commercialise research and evaluated the success of our relationships with companies.
Projects ranging from Arnold's involvement in fundraising for the business school and the development of the University's western campus, to the provision of a Steinway grand piano for the refurbished Clothworkers' Centenary Concert Hall illustrate the generosity of Arnold and Marjorie's commitment to the development of the institution.
The family's strong connection to the University continues through their son Michael, who remains a member of council. The new £15m six-storey building will consolidate key student administrative services under one roof, bringing into one place, functions currently carried out at six separate locations across the University, providing a 'one-stop shop' to offer improved and integrated support to students.
Its light, airy foyer will offer an open and welcoming environment - and it will stay open late, allowing part-time and continuing-education students to be taught in an accessible, secure environment as part of the 'evening campus initiative' to make better use of the University facilities later in the day.
The Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building will also provide a quality suite of offices for the University's senior management team and include a new meeting room for council, bringing the executive and governing bodies together on one site. Arnold Ziff began studying economics at Leeds in 1944, but didn't complete his course and was instead called up for national service.
He went on to play a key role in the post-war revival of Leeds through his company Town Centre Securities plc which developed the Merrion Centre - then the largest indoor shopping centre in Britain. By the time of his death in 2004, his shoe firm Stylo plc had grown to become one of the largest independent footwear retailers in the country.
His sons Michael and Edward are also former students of the University. The family said "As Leeds alumni, along with our sister Ann, we all are delighted to be involved with this project," "It is absolutely wonderful that this next exciting phase of the University's development will be named after our parents." Marjorie added: "We look forward immensely to the completion of this next phase of development of the University.
It will provide another permanent reminder of Arnold's contribution to the whole community of Leeds." Plans for the building are to be considered by Leeds City Council in the coming weeks, with work on the site due to start in late March.
Building work is scheduled to be completed by May 2008, with staff taking occupation of the building during the summer of 2008.
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