The fire that partially destroyed the University of Southampton's Mountbatten Building, wiping out two key IT research centres, has left staff, students and some private companies with a massive headache as the extent of the damage and the cost of rebuilding becomes clearer.
The facility was mainly used for advanced computer research but was also used by private companies for hosting solutions and as a source of expertise.
The fire on the University's Highfield Campus was brought under control on Sunday. No-one was injured but several research laboratories, including the University's fibre and microfabrication facilities, were destroyed. It is believed the University's wide area network was badly damaged.
On Monday, Professor Bill Wakeham, the vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, pledged that the research facilities would be rebuilt. "We are committed to rebuilding and out of these tragic events will emerge something bigger and better," he said.
The cost of replacing both the building and the specialist equipment within is estimated to cost in the region of £50m. But a spokeswoman for the University said "it is really difficult to talk about the cost at this stage".
The Mountbatten Building, which opened in 1991, houses research laboratories and offices for the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), and the microelectronics fabrication facility operated by University spin-off company Innos.
One source familiar with the situation told ZDNet UK some of the companies using the facilities offered by the University have been without email and Web access since Monday.
But according to a press statement, most of the University was back to work as usual on Wednesday, although lectures and tutorials for students in Electronics and Computer Science and for those in adjacent buildings have had to be postponed.