Frances Cairncross Fund exceeds £120,000

In summer 2014, and by popular demand, we were delighted to announce the creation of the Frances Cairncross Fund in honour of our outgoing Rector. All donations to the Fund will go towards the College’s Cohen Quadrangle development on Walton Street, which is the culmination of many years of great and determined effort under Rector Cairncross’s leadership. Exeter will name a room on Cohen Quad in her honour when the building opens in 2016.

We are thrilled that, between them, 126 alumni and Friends of the College have contributed £120,726.21 to the Fund – and the donations keep coming. A heartfelt thank you to our supporters from Rector Cairncross and from all at Exeter College!

Rector Cairncross's farewell tea party
Rector Cairncross’s farewell tea party
Rector Cairncross's farewell tea party
Rector Cairncross’s farewell tea party

Further photos from Rector Cairncross’s farewell party can be viewed here.

If you would like to donate to the Fund, please click here and choose the option ‘In Honour of Rector Frances Cairncross’.

Announcing Exeter College’s New Cohen Quadrangle

Exeter College is delighted to announce that Sir Ronald Cohen (1964, PPE) and his family foundation have pledged a further gift towards the Walton Street Quadrangle, bringing his gift to £9m ($14m). The total alumni philanthropic support for this project now stands at £16.5m.

In recognition of Sir Ronald and his family’s generosity, Exeter College is pleased to name the new building “Cohen Quadrangle”, in honour of Sir Ronald’s parents, Michael and Sonia Cohen.

Cohen Quadrangle will be able to house a whole year group of Exeter students and will provide 21st century teaching and study facilities for all members of the College. The building has been designed by Alison Brooks, 2008 winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize and Architects’ Journal’s 2013 Woman Architect of the Year.

The creation of this additional accommodation will enable Exeter to move towards meeting one of its core strategic aims – to offer up to three years of College accommodation for those who want to “live in”. This means students will benefit from top quality accommodation in a collegiate environment in the heart of Oxford, living and working alongside peers and academics.

Cohen Quadrangle will welcome its first students and Fellows in Michaelmas Term 2016. The College plans to house all third-year students on the Quadrangle, so this year’s intake of Freshers will be the first Cohen Quadrangle residents in a little less than two years’ time. The Quadrangle’s teaching, learning, and social spaces will be available to all students, including the 26 Williams-Exeter students who will continue to live at Ephraim Williams House on the Banbury Road.

This is an exciting time for Exeter as the 700th anniversary year comes to a close and the College enters its eighth century. It is the culmination of many years of great and determined effort under the leadership of Frances Cairncross who stepped down as Rector earlier this year. With funding for Cohen Quadrangle almost complete and generous support for students and teaching secured as part of the Exeter Excelling campaign, Exeter has boldly entered its eighth century.

On the announcement of the gift Rector Sir Rick Trainor said: “What Exeter has achieved – with Frances Cairncross and Sir Ronald’s leadership and the help of so many other members of Exeter’s community – is thrilling for Exeter’s future, for Exonians, and for generations of students to come.

“This is the largest gift in Exeter College’s 700-year history. It secures our major new building and it propels us with confidence toward the 21st century ‘collegiate ideal,’ where, for the duration of their degree, students live and study alongside peers and leading academics in top facilities. Funding is always important, but the vision behind this gift is what makes it so transformative.”

Asked about his motivation for the gift, Sir Ronald said: “It is at Exeter College that I really learned to think. Education is the one possession that cannot be taken away and I am lucky that I can help future generations of Exeter College students to live in a collegiate environment where their minds are best nurtured and inspired.  The stunning design by Alison Brooks will greatly enhance our College’s life.”

Rector Cairncross and Sir Ronald Cohen at the start of demolition work at the new quadrangle, April 2014
Rector Cairncross and Sir Ronald Cohen at the start of demolition work at the new quadrangle, April 2014

Wiktoria Slomkowska arrived at Exeter College last month to study Jurisprudence. In 2016 her year group will move into Cohen Quadrangle. She said: “I am in no doubt that this most generous gift from Sir Ronald Cohen will help to secure the Exeter College family a new home and will be an asset to all Exonians. The new facilities will most certainly promote a feeling of community within our college, helping all of us to create bonds of friendship which will last for a life time.

“As a student of Jurisprudence and a history enthusiast, I am particularly excited about the new archive facilities which will preserve Exeter’s 700-year-old history. My friends and I all look forward to moving to the Walton Street campus in our final year and entering the new Cohen Quadrangle for the first time will indeed be memorable.”

Laura Cheftel, who began reading Philosophy and Modern Languages in October 2014, said: “I am absolutely thrilled at the idea of living on the Walton Street campus. The anticipation in College has been contagious. Receiving news about the development and being able to visualise the space has made me very excited. It is so modern, so unlike anything I’ve seen in Oxford and yet such a compliment to the stunning historical architecture of Exeter’s main front quad on Turl Street. The Learning Commons sounds fantastic because it is so versatile and dynamic. Finally study space meets food and drink! Cohen Quadrangle is clearly pioneering modern study. It is going to be an incredible space to live in.”

Exeter is indebted to alumni, parents, and friends for their extraordinary support. Such support ensures Exeter achieves its aim of being as eminent a college as possible, in the world’s greatest university. We look forward to welcoming you to the formal opening of Cohen Quadrangle in Autumn 2016.

The Walton Street Project: a Recap

This is the news statement from November 2011 which announced Alison Brooks Architects (ABA) as the chosen firm for the transformation of Exeter’s Cohen Quad on Walton Street.

Exeter College is delighted to announce that Alison Brooks Architects (ABA) has won the contest to design the College’s new premises on Walton Street, Oxford, following a competitive selection process involving five architectural practices from the UK and US.

ABA is recognised as a dynamic and forward-thinking practice and is the first to have won the UK’s three most prestigious awards for architecture: the Stirling Prize, the Manser Medal and the Stephen Lawrence Prize. Among its award-winning projects are the Accordia development in Cambridge, the Quarterhouse Performing Arts Centre in Folkestone and Wrap House, London. Exeter College is excited to be collaborating with such a creative design team. This is an opportunity to create a strong and lasting contribution to Oxford’s built environment.

The site, on the corner of Walton Street and Worcester Place, will form Exeter College’s third quadrangle in the heart of Oxford – less than 10 minutes’ walk from the College’s Turl Street site. The new site will combine student accommodation with teaching rooms, social spaces and study facilities.

The former Ruskin College site, purchased by Exeter. The Edwardian facade will be retained and incorporated into ABA's design for the new building
The former Ruskin College site, purchased by Exeter. The Edwardian facade will be retained and incorporated into ABA’s design for the new building

ABA shares the College’s vision of 21st century collegiate life and is recognised for having a passion for quality and craftsmanship, a delight in place making and a unique architectural approach.

The quadrangle is intended to provide accommodation for up to 100 students, many of whom are currently renting in the private market. This addition to the College’s campus will alleviate some of the strain on the local rental market and also reduce the financial burden on students who will benefit from the College’s 30-week lets at affordable prices.

The Rector of Exeter College, Frances Cairncross, said: “As we move towards celebrating Exeter College’s 700th anniversary in 2014, so too can we look forward to creating a new and exciting space on Walton Street. This quadrangle will provide outstanding living, teaching and study facilities in the heart of Oxford, continuing the ancient college tradition of living and studying around peaceful communal outdoor spaces. Each of our new rooms will be a mini-bursary for a student, cutting the costs of living in central Oxford and helping Exeter College to continue to attract the brightest and most talented students.”

The competition was arranged by Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC), a specialist architectural consultancy. The College asked for evidence of genuine fresh thinking from competitors, not just the models of the recent past. An initial long list of 26 international firms was reduced to five through a process of building visits, speaking to past clients, office visits and advice from specialists in the field and the College’s alumni.

MRC carried out a thorough study and site analysis to establish a brief, mindful of the heritage of the site, the quality of urban setting and the importance of promoting world-class design in Oxford.

A former student of Exeter College and local resident, Hugh Palmer, said “I’m very glad that future students of my old college will have the chance to enjoy the extra space and improved facilities made possible by this ambitious project. The site is a significant one, right at the entrance to Jericho, and there is an opportunity not only to meet the practical needs of the College, but also to create a beautiful new building to enhance this fascinating part of Oxford.”

Alison Brooks, Director of Alison Brooks Architects, said “We are delighted to have this opportunity to work in the heart of Oxford with Exeter College and to contribute to the evolution of its architecture. The Quad’s combination of residential, academic, social and cultural spaces within a scholarly and urban context is every architect’s ‘ideal brief’. ABA very much look forward to working with Exeter College to deliver a 21st century quad at Walton Street to complement the extraordinary quality of their Turl Street campus.”

The new site is being financed by a fundraising campaign in the period leading up to, during and immediately after Exeter College’s 700th anniversary in 2014.

The College, advised by MRC and others, will now work with the ABA team to develop the initial design, emphasising the need to respect the qualities of the site and surroundings.

Development Office Team Visit Site

On a sunny morning in mid-October, the Development Office team donned hard hats and walked to Walton Street to see the progress of the Cohen Quad.  Deputy Bursar Gez Wells took us on a tour, starting at the Edwardian façade in the east (the Porters’ Lodge and main entrance) and finishing at the westernmost point of the site, where the lecture theatre will be.

We came away with a great sense of excitement about the changes that we will see over the next two years and how this third quadrangle is going to transform Exeter College.  We look forward to sharing all the news with you as the project progresses!

Walking the length of the site
Walking the length of the site
Deputy Bursar Gez Wells explains the site layout
Deputy Bursar Gez Wells explains the site layout
Development Office Team at Walton Street
Development Office Team at the Cohen Quad on Walton Street