This Grade II* listed building was part of the former Trent Polytechnic, and before that the Nottingham and District Technical College, which was set up by the City Council in 1945.
The Newton Building was the new college’s architectural response to rapidly expanding student numbers and to the optimistic post-war climate for higher education within the city and the in the country as a whole. It was designed by Cecil Howitt in 1952 and finally built between 1956-58. Some of Howitt’s other notable local buildings are Nottingham Council House (1926-29), Raleigh Cycle Factory (1929-31) and Nottingham University’s Portland Building (1949).
Newton has a Portland Stone facing, expressed as cladding by the alignment of both vertical and horizontal joints. The building is a low block, polygonal in plan and is surmounted at right-angles to the street by an eight-storey tower. It now contains a large number of state-of-the-art lecture theatres and teaching rooms as well as a conference centre. The original Burton Street entrance, at the base of the tower block, was treated as a symmetrical composition with projecting centre with fluted pilasters. There are vertical windows to left and right of the tower each with a projecting metal grill. There is a slightly recessed glazed attic storey. The building too is slightly set back behind the street façade with moulded vertical windows to the end elevation. Broad flanks each also have panels of narrow vertical strip windows with projecting masonry pilasters, flanked to either side by panels with narrow horizontal windows. There are delicate metal framed single-glazed windows with margin glazing throughout the building. The building retains an original staircase matching the style of the main building. A good example of Cecil Howitt's later work, Newton shows the Modernist idea of the "slab and podium" translated into a classical manner.
As recently as the late 1940s, before the building was erected, there were approximately 35 terraced houses on the site on roads known as Arboretum Terrace and Goldsmith Place. There was also the Greyhound Inn on the corner of Burton Street and South Sherwood Street, Taylors factory on South Sherwood Street, a bakery on Goldsmith Street and The Spread Eagle Hotel on the corner of Burton Street and Goldsmith Street (the cellar of which survived and came to light again when the tram tracks were laid next to Newton building). Bilbie Walk, to the North of the building, is roughly on the site of a former road called Bilbie Street.
The original scheme design of 1952-53 was considerably larger and would have seen Newton occupying the whole of the large triangular site bounded by Burton Street, South Sherwood Street, Shakespeare Street and Goldsmith Street. It envisaged two matching blocks facing each other across a pentagonal courtyard (on the site of the Grade II* listed NTU Arkwright Building - which was to have been demolished!).
The more recent (2009) glazed link extension on Goldsmith Street, creates an impressive main reception for the University and connects Arkwright to Newton. It is on the site of a former car park (and roughly where the bakery once stood). It was designed by internationally famous Sir Michael Hopkins Architects (designers of the London 2012 Velodrome and Westminster Tube Station). This dramatic space plays host to many large events, dinners and end-of-year student shows.
Newton building has large flat roofs, one of which now features an expanse of over 3000m2 of sedum, one of the largest green roofs in the country. A pair of breeding peregrine falcons live, protected and observed by NTU cameras, on one of the upper windowsills, adjacent to the tower on the South Sherwood Street elevation of the building, during the spring and summer months.