The Opening of the M.A. Vassalli Lecture Centre

As part of the its Building Programme, the University today Tuesday, 20 March 2001, sees the opening of the most recent of the new facilities on campus which is named after M.A. Vassalli. At an opening ceremony held in the new lecture centre, Professor Oliver Friggieri gave a short talk about the life and times of this Maltese figure who is often referred to as the father of the Maltese language.

"Il-konflitti tieghu, migburin fil-hajja mqanqla tieghu bejn habs u ezilji u faqar u studju u solitudni, jistghu jitqiesu bhala tipici tal-konflittwalita' ewlenija fl-istorja Maltija: bejn ic-cokon Ii jaghlaq u jillimita, fuq naha, u l-ftuh Ii jigi mill-kisba tal-gherf, fuq in-naha l-ohra."

It has been the University's practice to name various spaces on campus after people who have made a significant contribution towards the cultural and political development of this country. Maltese already remembered on campus include P.P. Saydon, J.P. Borg, Dun Mikiel Xerri, Giuseppe Zahra, Erin Serracino lnglott and Francis Ebejer.

In a brief address, the Rector spoke about the critical link between a country's cultural development and its university life which walk hand-in-hand and are a reflection of each other. He noted that Vassalli was appointed professor of Maltese at the University of Malta by John Hookham Frere himself who actually paid for Vassalli's salary. After the failure of the movement against the government of the Order of St. John, Vassalli was imprisoned. He returned briefly during the French interregnum but was exiled for life under Malta's first British Governor, Alexander Ball. Vassalli was author of a dictionary and grammar of the Maltese language, translater of the New Testament and one of the first to express national sentiment.

"Ghal dawn ir-rag unijiet kollha... l-Universita' ta' Malta terga tfakkru bl-akbar rispett waqt Ii tittama Ii l-kontribut tieghu jibqa' jkun apprezzat minn kulhadd."

The Minister also gave a brief address. The occasion is also commemorated with a plaque.

The M.A. Vassalli Lecture Centre goes far towards the creation of much needed new spaces for lecture and examination halls. The students have been able to enjoy this building, which provides flexible spaces, equipped with the latest audio visual aids, since October.


The New Lecture Centre Building
The New Lecture Centre Building project was conceived primarily to provide a solution for the ever-increasing demand for lecture halls that could accommodate large groups of students. Appropriately, it was sited in front of the new entrance to the University, conveniently located close to the main University Car park. With regard to design, it was intended to project a bold and monumental landmark as one enters the University.

Design Considerations
The building designed by Professor Richard England consists of two identical and symmetrical blocks, linked horizontally at second floor level and vertically by twin towers at the front with staircases and lifts at the back. The central open area at ground floor level provides a sheltered rendezvous. The structure is built on three floors levels and the layout also incorporates a basement studio under one of the blocks, where are also located a substation and stand-by generator that feeds the power supply in case of external power failure. The building is fully accessible to people with special needs. Indeed, the building provides sanitary facilities for the disabled at each level in both blocks and the lift design and door handles were also designed with such needs in mind.

Lecture rooms are fully air-conditioned, the controls of which are centralised, and the water supply is heated by solar energy.

To ensure flexibility the large halls are equipped with moveable, acoustical partitions and can conveniently be split into two soundproof lecture rooms to accommodate smaller group. Thus the building can cater for small, medium sized and even larger groups of students.

Facilities and Seating Capacity
As stated, the building essentially consists of twin blocks linked at second floor level, with a basement studio under one of the blocks.

Accommodation at Ground floor level includes two large lecture halls capable of taking a maximum of 224 students each. Alternatively, these halls can be separated by means of the movable acoustical partitions parked at the back of the hall, into four halls catering for 91 students each. Such an arrangement renders the halls flexible to the needs of the University. This floor level also provides for six seminar rooms having a seating capacity for 30 students each, a tutorial room for 10 students, two administrative offices, a reception desk/office, four small stores and a kitchenette. Sanitary facilities are adequately provided on each floor level in both blocks.

At first floor level, one finds six seminar rooms with a seating capacity for 30 students each, two tutorial rooms for 15 students each, two control rooms and sanitary facilities.

The second floor level, once again includes two large lecture halls that can take 224 students each or can be converted into four halls for 91 students each. The layout also incorporates two tutorial rooms for 15 students each, two offices, two control rooms, sanitary facilities and two central lecture/seminar rooms each having a capacity for 64 students. Alternatively, the room can be opened into one large hall with a seating capacity for 120 students.

Thus, the seating capacities are as follows
Ground floor - 638 students
First floor 210 students
Second floor- 606 students
Total 1454 Seating Capacity

Floor Areas
The total floor area at basement level measures 540 square metres.

The ground floor level measures 1172 square metres, the first floor level 1102 square metres, and the second floor level 1032 square metres, to give a total floor area of 3846 square metres.

The three floor levels are serviced and equipped with two staircases at the back, four lifts and two emergency I fire escape staircases in front and incorporated in the twin towers.

Prepared by Christopher Spiteri A&CE
Project Manager

20 March 2001