CCI’s future home named after Sir David Attenborough

19 Apr 2015

The building that will house the CCI Conservation Campus from the end of 2015 onwards has been named the David Attenborough Building, in honour of Sir David’s pioneering work in bringing the wonders of the natural world to our screens.

Currently undergoing refurbishment, the David Attenborough Building is located in the heart of the city, on the University of Cambridge’s New Museums Site. Once completed, it will provide a vibrant hub for the partners in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), a unique collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge-based cluster of leading conservation organisations, and the Museum of Zoology.

The CCI space has been designed to provide collaborative facilities to foster innovation, generate solutions to conservation challenges and create an ideas-rich environment to inspire future generations. It will house over 500 academics, practitioners and students from the University and its CCI partner organisations: BirdLife International, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Cambridge Conservation Forum, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), TRAFFIC, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Tropical Biology Association and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

“Sir David Attenborough’s work, introducing and enthusing millions of people to the beauty, fragility and our scientific understanding of the natural world, makes the naming of this building in his honour particularly significant,” said Dr Mike Rands, Executive Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. “The David Attenborough Building will act as a collaborative hub for the conservation community within Cambridge and beyond. Creating a collaborative and dynamic space in which experts from academia, practice and policy can interact and work together on a daily basis will help shape the future of life on Earth and the relationship between people and the natural environment on which we depend for our own wellbeing and survival.”

The collaborative space of the Conservation Campus is complemented by the presence of the University of Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology in the lower floors of the building. As part of this project, the Museum of Zoology is undergoing major refurbishment to create new displays to inspire and engage audiences with the wonders of animal diversity, and new stores to preserve its outstanding collections for the future. The Museum’s collections include many significant specimens that have been instrumental in furthering scientific knowledge, such as Darwin’s finches, as well as a number of examples of extinct organisms such as the iconic dodo. As Professor Paul Brakefield, Director of the Museum of Zoology, comments, "The refurbishment of the Museum of Zoology will allow many new audiences to discover these wonders for themselves, as well as maintaining the Museum’s key role in University teaching.”

Sir David Attenborough has a strong connection with the University of Cambridge, having been a student at the University. His relationship with CCI, though not of such long-standing, also runs deep: he launched the plans for the CCI Conservation Campus in the Senate House with the former Chancellor of the University, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2013.

The official naming of the David Attenborough Building occurred at a reception in Emmanuel College on 21 April, attended by Sir David, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, members of the CCI Advisory Board and other guests associated with the building.