What a difference 12 months makes. After a £3.5m refurbishment, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is reaping the benefits of a total makeover that has seen the capital’s conference centre transformed into a world-class facility.
Located in a grand row of collonaded Georgian buildings in the New Town, the prestigious organisation also doubles up as an exhibition centre, housing some of the College’s rare historic collections. The venue has a fresh and vibrant feel to it after a complete overhaul, which has seen the old entrance relocated to Number 11 Queen Street and turned into a fully accessible modern events complex with stylish reception and exhibition rooms.
The Physicians International Conference Centre was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal at the beginning of February, and has immediately attracted rave reviews from external clients, not to mention a great deal of interest from event organisers far and wide.
The centrepiece 300-seat auditorium is an impressive facility boasting a suite of technology that reflects an investment in state-of-the-art audio-visual, webstreaming and video-conference systems. Due to its height, the back row feels close to the action and the acoustics are impressive; conveniently located microphones within the columns ensure that delegates can address the audience from fixed positions around the room.
Outside the main auditorium, the foyer has been stylishly remodelled and can be used for delegate registration, networking and breakout sessions. Designers have clearly paid attention to the ‘flow’ of the venue, and the interconnectedness of the building’s different zones has vastly improved.
Away from the modern conference centre, the other function rooms retain the original charm of an organisation that first convened more than 300 years ago. These historic spaces are also highly versatile and can be used for a range of smaller meetings, seminars or drinks receptions. The books and manuscripts on display in the New Library provide a stunning backdrop to gatherings of up to 150 and the Great Hall is truly a space to behold; the carved ceiling stuccoes and gildings are rich with detail and are testament to craftsmanship of a bygone era. This is a space for event planners looking for the ‘wow’ factor to impress delegates, and it can be used in any number of configurations depending on the event.
One of the main drivers of the refurbishment was to make the conference centre more accessible. The redesigned and refurbished reception and foyer, the new public exhibition space, upgraded conferencing facilities, and the fully-accessible entrance on Queen Street are all evidence of that. What’s more the venue has achieved all of that with a design aesthetic that boldly blends old and new.