Team of creatives overhauls Sainsbury Centre at UEA

A £10m project to refurbish and extend the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia will come to fruition this summer, drawing on the work of a multidisciplinary team of designers.

The augmented centre features branding, signage and exhibition graphics by Bristol consultancy Steers McGillan, which was appointed in 2004 on the basis of its work for the soon-to-be-completed Panopticon centre at University College London (DW 24 June 2004).

The consultancy worked alongside architects and interior designers at Foster & Partners, plus exhibition and lighting specialist George Sexton Associates.

‘The branding is about describing what the gallery is, as people don’t necessarily understand what it does,’ says Steers McGillan partner Richard McGillan. ‘The identity describes what the gallery is about, through a combination of three words/ Collections, World Art and Exhibitions.’

The three words comprising the primary identity can be adapted for other applications, such as the café menus, says McGillan. The group is also creating the design guidelines for the relaunch of the centre’s website, at

In addition to the architectural overhaul of many of the centre’s internal structures, Foster & Partners has also undertaken interior designs for the Gallery Café and Gallery Shop and has collaborated with Steers McGillan and the centre itself on a structural manifestation of the branding to be installed outside the building. The original centre, which opened in 1978, was Foster & Partners’ first public building project.

The SCVA will reopen on 21 May with an exhibition entitled Pacific Encounters – Art and Divinity in Polynesia from 1760-1860, with lighting and 3D design by George Sexton Associates.

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