The Auditorium

One of the most innovative spaces at Cohen Quadrangle is the auditorium. It is a multi-purpose space that will enable Exeter to offer modern and flexible performance facilities to all manner of people, be they speakers, musicians, actors or dancers. This is Exeter’s creative hub!

The auditorium will be able to seat 110 people in a variety of ways. Filled with natural light and boasting top-of-the-range audiovisual equipment, this will be a venue for talks, performances and concerts as well as drinks and dinner events. It will also be an inspiring place to study for small groups of students, Fellows and visitors.

Lecture theatre
Architect’s rendering of the auditorium from the inside, with a view across the North Quad to the Learning Commons and the hanging room

The room will have a side entrance so that members of the general public can access the space directly from Worcester Place, without being required to walk through the rest of the building. It also has a service lane right next to it to facilitate the transport of equipment and furniture, as well as a cloakroom and box office area.

The auditorium’s distinctive curved roof made of glulam supports is now under construction, as you can see from the following photos. The roof will boast a ‘green’ section beneath its curve, planted up with hardy evergreen shrubs that offer an attractive view for the student bedrooms that overlook this space.

The auditorium under construction, viewed from one of the residential floors at Cohen Quad
The auditorium under construction, viewed from Worcester Place
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Close-up of the glulam supports that sustain the curved roof. The shrubs that form the ‘green roof’ will be planted along the straight line you can see starting to form in the foreground 
The site viewed from Worcester Place
Architect’s rendering of the completed auditorium (in the foreground, with the bicycle racks alongside it) with its curved wall and roof. The ‘green roof’ lies beneath the curve, fully visible from the student bedrooms that look out over this part of the site
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Cohen Quad’s ground floor plan with the auditorium circled. Note the side entrance from Worcester Place (far left), meaning visitors are not required to walk the length of Cohen Quad to reach this space

The room will also boast a performance-standard grand piano, as well as space for instrument storage.  Donations to enable the College to purchase a new piano would be very warmly welcomed!

Views From The Top

The Alumni and Development Office team were fortunate to visit Cohen Quadrangle on a gloriously sunny autumn day. Here are some of our photographs from the top to brighten your Wednesday.

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Looking north from the top of Cohen Quad – you can see the Radcliffe Observatory and the new Blavatnik School of Government in the distance
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The top floor of Cohen Quadrangle with its distinctive curved roof
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This is the highest part of the original Edwardian facade of Ruskin College
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View! The large building to the left of the photo is the Oxford University Press on Walton Street
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It seems a shame to fill the walls in when there’s a view like this! – but you can imagine how lovely North Oxford will look out of these dormer windows on the third floor
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This space will be the Senior Common Room. To the right of the photo there will be rooms for teaching and study. Behind where the photographer is standing to take this picture there will be a roof garden
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Looking across the top of the site from east to west
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A fully-fitted bathroom pod being lowered into the second floor at Cohen Quad
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The Exeter Alumni and Development Office team at Cohen Quad

At the Apex: Topping Out at Cohen Quad

On Saturday 10 October 2015, Exeter held a ‘topping out’ ceremony at Cohen Quadrangle, a milestone event during the development of the College’s new campus.

Topping out is a symbolic builders’ rite, traditionally held when the last beam (or its equivalent) is installed at the highest point of a building under construction.  For Exeter, this meant a ceremony to mark the completion of the exterior construction of the site, an opportunity to reflect on our progress so far, and a chance to look forward to the completion of Cohen Quadrangle.

A group of 45 hardy supporters climbed to the third floor of the building site on Walton Street where the ceremony took place. Speeches were given by Terry Spraggett (Business Unit Director of Public Sector at construction company Mace), Alison Brooks (Cohen Quad’s architect), Rector Sir Rick Trainor and lead benefactor to the project, Sir Ronald Cohen.

Alison Brooks spoke about the significance of the topping out ceremony, demonstrating how Exeter’s 2009 vision, and the architectural idea that sprang from it, “is now tangible as form and space”.

Alison Brooks speaks about her architectural design and vision

The Rector then had the opportunity to thank all those involved in the project, from the architects and construction team to the college staff and the many benefactors whose toil and support have made Cohen Quad a reality.

The Rector addresses the guests

Sir Ronald, in honour of whose parents the new quadrangle is named, spoke about his delight that Exeter would at last have enough space to accommodate another full year-group of undergraduates, as well as significant additional space for teaching and study. He praised Exeter for its bold decision to purchase the former Ruskin College site and thanked former Rector, Dame Frances Cairncross, for her vision and perseverance in getting the project off the ground. He finished by recognising the efforts of current Rector Sir Rick Trainor to take this project to completion and acknowledged the exciting challenge he will have leading the integration of Cohen Quadrangle with Exeter’s historic site on Turl Street.

Sir Ronald Cohen speaks about the impact Cohen Quad will have on Exeter and on the University of Oxford

Dressed in full protection gear, the Rector and Sir Ronald then each tightened a large bolt at one of the highest points of the building to symbolise the completion of external construction.

Sir Ronald tightens the final bolt at Cohen Quadrangle

Afterwards guests enjoyed a glass of Ambriel, an English sparkling wine produced in Sussex by Exeter alumnus Charles Outhwaite (1984, Modern History) and his wife Wendy, themselves both benefactors to Cohen Quadrangle.

Guests had the opportunity to walk around the third floor to get a sense of the scale of the project. They were even given a first glimpse of Cohen Quad’s pod bathrooms, already in place on the residential floors. All those present expressed their delight at the progress of the quad’s construction and their excitement to see it completed in less than a year’s time.

Guests explore the site – here they are standing where two bedrooms will be. Note the two bathroom pods behind them
Inside a fully-fitted bathroom pod

Also at the ceremony were current Exeter students, several of whom will enter the ballot to live at Cohen Quad during the 2016-17 academic year. Harry Williams (2014, Economics and Management), JCR Accommodation Officer, celebrated the fact that Exeter can now offer accommodation (and in such a central location) for three years to those undergraduates who want it.

He said, “It seems like the architects have made a real effort to make this development so much more than just a living space. I’m excited that it’s going to have that “Oxford quad” feel and that there’ll be spaces to socialise and study. Most of all, speaking as a student who has been following this development for the past few months, it was rewarding to see the renders that had been sent to us start to come to life.”

Sir Ronald was presented with a ceremonial engraved spanner to commemorate the occasion. A second spanner was presented to the Rector and will go on permanent display in the new building.

More photos of the event are available to view here.

Our next formal ceremony will be the official opening of Cohen Quadrangle!

Ceremonial spanner commemorating the occasion

Imagination Versus Reality

In the early days of our Walton Street project, many of us found it hard to actually imagine a whole new campus forming part of the College footprint. It sounded so vast and so exciting: unprecedented and therefore intangible expansion for Exeter.

Alison Brooks Architects‘ renders, with their detail, their crystal-clear image quality and their helpful “to scale” people (many wearing year-round sub-fusc), have been enormously useful in enabling us to get both a sense of the scale of the building and of how the finished rooms could look.

Now that construction is well underway, it is exciting to compare the original renders to the building as it develops. Take a look at these photos (taken on 1st October 2015) alongside the architect’s visualizations to get a sense of what the finished building will look like.


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The Learning Commons – autumn 2015. You can already make out the position of the hanging teaching room (top right-hand corner), with its long window. Soon the auditorium and North Quad will start to appear where the large gap is currently (see render directly below)
The Learning Commons as it will be in autumn 2016, with the hanging room on the upper right-hand side and the view across the North Quad to the auditorium


The South Quad under construction – autumn 2015. You can already make out the stone steps (bottom centre of photo) leading down to the cafe. These steps will be bathed in afternoon and evening sunlight
Architect’s render of the South Quad, with steps leading down to the cafe. The Learning Commons is directly above. Walk along the covered colonnade towards the right of the picture and you’ll reach the Porters’ Lodge
Close-up of the cafe, with its indoor and outdoor seating areas. The servery is at the back of the photo


Student bedroom under construction – autumn 2015
Architect’s render of a student bedroom
Architect’s render of a student bedroom (note the two windows that already appear in the construction photo above)


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The Porters’ Lodge, autumn 2015. The archway is the main entrance to the building
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Render of the Porters’ Lodge, which will be a reality by autumn 2016!