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.
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 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!
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.