A crowning moment fit for a princess


 (Source: Photography supplied by UCL and taken by James Tye )

Our long-term client UCL’s new state-of-the art teaching and research facilities at the Eastman Dental Institute (EDI), also known as the Rockefeller Building, were formally opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal last week. 

During a visit to the Institute, The Princess was given a guided tour of UCL’s latest world-class facility, which was transformed by ISG’s science and health team during the pandemic last year. 

As part of a series of enabling works to facilitate the development of the £15m Institute, the two-stage design and build contract took place across unconnected spaces on the building’s ground, first, second, third and fourth floors, while adjacent spaces remained in use. 

The new state-of-the-art facilities includes dedicated skills classrooms for the production of patient devices such as fixed and removable prosthetic devices; laboratories with over 85 clinical skills stations with dental manikins allowing trainees to practically and safely refine skills; and over a dozen dental microscopes to aid identification of anatomical imperfections and the quick detection of enamel and dentine fractures.

Phil Ithier, Operations Director for ISG commented: We’re proud to have delivered state-of-the-art teaching and dental research facilities for London’s leading multidisciplinary university, UCL.  It was one of the most technically and logistically challenging builds, as the project involved consolidating the university’s medical school, Cancer Institute of Pathology and Institute of Women’s Health into a single facility. Liaising with the multiple existing stakeholders who remained in occupation throughout the project was critical in ensuring operations remained unaffected through multiple hand overs across different floors. Well done to Kevin French and his team who all worked tirelessly on this hugely logistically challenging scheme’. 

Home to around 350 postgraduates and 60 PhD dental students, along with more than 120 academic, technical and professional services staff, a further 500+ dentists a year will also use the cutting-edge digital workstations to undertake specialist training as part of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).


(Source: Photography supplied by UCL and taken by James Tye )

Speaking at the opening Professor Stephen Porter, Director of the EDI, said: “These facilities, together with our highly talented staff will enable the Institute to greatly advance our goal of improving wellbeing of all populations by delivering education and research relevant to oral health care.” 

The UCL Eastman Dental Institute (EDI) has moved from Grays Inn Road to University Street at the heart of Bloomsbury, ensuring it remains close to UCLH Eastman Dental Hospital – one of Europe’s largest hospitals specialising in complex oral health care and advanced ear, nose and throat treatments – which relocated to entirely new premises in Huntley Street in 2019. 

The relocation of the Eastman Dental Institute facilities needed to take place before ISG could start the main design and construction package on the £300m Institute of Neurology and Dementia Research Institute – UCL’s new home for Neuroscience. 

The investment in the creation of the new EDI’s facilities both in Bloomsbury and the Royal Free Hospital, London, along with the Eastman Dental Hospital by UCLH NHS Foundation Trust totals over £130m - representing one of the greatest investments in education, research and clinical care (relating to oral health) in the world in the past two decades. To formally open the EDI, The Princess unveiled a dated plaque and gave a short speech. 

UCL President & Provost Dr Michael Spence said: “We are delighted and incredibly proud to have welcomed Her Royal Highness to open these fantastic new facilities, which befit the world-class achievements and reputation of the UCL Eastman Dental Institute. These state-of-the art teaching and research facilities ensure we continue to provide the very best dental education for our students and ensure our pioneering scientists are able to develop the next generation of dental innovations.”  

In total the new EDI has 90 phantom head (dental manikin) workstations, which allows postgraduates to refine their skills alongside teaching by leaders of the different dental specialities. These spaces also enable postgraduate and CPD students to work in conditions that mimic real-life dental practice. There are two suites of endodontic microscopes to aid identification of anatomical imperfections and the quick detection of enamel and dentine fractures.  

And new facilities include a state-of-the-art 3D workflow suite, which utilises the latest 3D scanning and computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software to digitally plan the dental restoration of patients. The suite is complemented by computer-aided milling and 3D printing devices, able to create dentures, bridges crowns and implants. An open space where peer groups can meet to discuss cases, the day’s teaching and reflections on the impact on practice, is also provided.

The Princess is Chancellor of the University of London, of which UCL is a member institution.  On arrival she was met by Dr Michael Spence, UCL President & Provost, Professor Stephen Porter, along with Professor Wendy Thompson, Vice-Chancellor, University of London, and Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London.