Exeter family celebrates the opening of Cohen Quad

On the afternoon of Saturday 14 January the Exeter College family celebrated Cohen Quad opening for students, as well as officially opening the Student Common Room.

Although the formal Cohen Quad opening events will not be until mid-March, this was a wonderful occasion to mark informally the moment when all the resident students were finally living and studying in Cohen Quad.

The Rector expressed his thanks to the architect, Alison Brooks, and the project architect, Hannah Constantine, for creating such a wonderful space for the College. He also paid tribute to the tireless work of Gez Wells, Deputy Bursar, while also noting his birthday that day with a birthday cake and leading a chorus of “Happy Birthday”. He finished by thanking the students for their patience during the delays and encouraging them to make the most of their new building.

The outgoing JCR President Harry Williams, the new JCR President Dan Smith, and the current MCR President Sandra Ionescu said a few words in response to the Rector and then walked over to the Student Common Room to cut the ceremonial ribbon.

The Cohen Quad Student Common Room, which is adjacent to the Dakota Café and below the Learning Commons, is a space for all students and has been furnished with comfy chairs, a TV, and board games. Over the coming weeks the students will make it more their own space and it will become a hub for undergraduate, graduate, and Williams students alike.

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The Rector, Harry Williams, Dan Smith and Sandra Ionescu each spoke at the event

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The Student Common Room is formally opened

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The event was well attended by students, staff, fellows and alumni

FitzHugh Auditorium revealed

This roof top picture, kindly taken by local resident Fran Monks earlier today, reveals Cohen Quad’s auditorium.

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The Auditorium (front right of picture) with its distinctive curved roof

Now completely clear of scaffolding, the stone work and Rimex tiling are visible giving a further sense of the beautiful scope and nature of Alison Brooks’ design for Cohen Quad.

Internally, the stone cladding is being completed while ensuring that the wishbone glulam beams remain visible as a stunning feature of the space.

The auditorium, to be known as the FitzHugh Auditorium, will be able to seat 110 people for a lecture or concert and 100 people for a banquet. We’re looking forward to being able to host symposiums, concerts, student performances, gala dinners, and even film nights here and are sure that the students will come up with even more ideas (perhaps the next Burns Night Ceilidh)!

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The internal beams of the FitzHugh Auditorium

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Architect render of the finished Auditorium

South cloister arches in place

The final task of the Cohen Quad crane, before it was removed from the site at the end of June, was to hoist the wooded (glulam) arches of the south cloister into place.

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Running west across the site, from the Porters’ Lodge to the Learning Commons, these magnificent arches form a covered colonnade across the quad. Their impressive height continues the sense of space that is achieved in the Porters’ Lodge and mirrored in the Learning Commons.

The cloister itself is glazed – at least two out of the three Oxford terms are decidedly wet! – and the sunlight just pours into this space which draws you further in.

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The design of the arches – and the perspective they create – forms a visually stunning route that leads to teaching rooms and out onto the Benson (south) Quad itself.

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Cohen Quad – a quick (visual) recap

It’s been over 18 months now since the original Ruskin College buildings were demolished, the façade anchored in place, and 14,200 tons of earth removed in 710 lorry loads. Today, much of the core structure is completed, the auditorium is in place, and the glazing and roofing are now being put in place.

Each week, Fran Monks (Friend of Exeter) has taken a photograph of the site from the roof of her home in Worcester Place. We’ve put them all together in a time-lapse video which you can view here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYRJHKd7-CU

Watch as we excavate into the basement, look out for the arrival of the big red crane, see the creation of the arched colonnade, view the construction of each floor, and be amazed at the building of the auditorium with its signature wish-bone rafters! The video finishes with most of the building swathed in weatherproof plastic, but you can still catch a glimpse of the glazing and rimex roofing.

Progress report: Cohen Quad is watertight and works have begun internally

We are pleased to report that work at Cohen Quad is progressing well and the main site activities are now focused on fitting out the building’s contents.

One of the last windows to be fitted – an impressive dormer window on the fourth floor with exceptional views over Jericho – was installed in March and the building is now fundamentally watertight. This has allowed the internal fit-out to begin, including the interior joinery and plaster boarding.

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The dormer window with its exceptional views over Jericho

The wiring has been completed in the basement and on the ground floor and next week work will begin on the interior stonework on these floors. Meanwhile the electricians have moved to the first floor as they work their way up the building.

On the outside the first Rimex metal roof tiles have been fitted to the building’s exterior. These will give Cohen Quad its distinctive metallic roof and will also cover the exterior of some walls. Panel by panel the exterior of Cohen Quad will take shape and come the end of June the large crane that has dominated the site for many months will be removed, making it possible to see clearly how the finished building will look.

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Fitting the Rimex metal roof tiles

Behind the curtain

Since November 2015 Cohen Quad has been cloaked in weather-proof sheeting. But sadly what keeps the elements out also keeps prying eyes at bay, and the progress at Exeter’s third quadrangle is no longer immediately obvious to the passing observer.

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Cohen Quad under wraps in November 2015

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…and Cohen Quad in January 2016

But behind the façade of plastic sheeting progress is continuing apace. Currently the exterior windows are being installed – known as a curtain wall in the construction industry as they form a non-structural exterior to the building. And behind that curtain much work is taking place inside the development too.

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Some of the recently installed curtain glazing

Both of the passenger lifts are under construction, with Lift 1 already having its door in place.

Underfloor heating is being installed in the basement and the ground floor. The remaining floors will also benefit from underfloor heating in due course.

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Curtain glazing (top right), underfloor heating (bottom right) and one of the lifts under construction (top left)

Also in the basement mechanical and electrical work is being undertaken, including the installation of the building’s boilers and an air source heat pump which will transfer heat from outside to inside the building, providing an efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat Cohen Quad and its water.

So while from the outside it may be hard for the casual observer to notice much change, inside Cohen Quad great strides are being taken towards the development’s completion ready for its first students in Michaelmas 2016.

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An example of the amazing views that can be enjoyed from Cohen Quad

Invest in Cohen Quad

The generous support of alumni and Friends of Exeter has enabled us to purchase the former Ruskin College site on Walton Street, enlist award-winning architects to produce an innovative design for the new campus, and begin to make this vision a reality during construction.

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New brochure outlining remaining opportunities for support

The total cost of purchasing, designing and building Cohen Quadrangle is expected to be £46m. To date, over £17m has been given in donations from Exeter alumni and Friends out of a fundraising goal of £18m. This means that we are just £1m short of our target!

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New brochure outlining remaining opportunities for support

Be part of Exeter’s future! This is your last opportunity to support the quadrangle as it enters its final few months of construction. Donations of all sizes are extremely welcome, and examples of what your gifts could achieve are set out below.

Student bedroom

There will be 90 student bedrooms at Cohen Quadrangle, all with en-suite bathrooms, with views looking out across Jericho, North Oxford, Worcester College and beyond.

A donation of £10,000 will name a student bedroom (with a plaque outside the door honouring your support) as you direct. Click here to read about two Exonians who have done exactly this.

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Student bedroom

South Quadrangle steps

The amphitheatre-style steps in Cohen Quad’s South Quadrangle are a sun-trap, providing an attractive outside seating area for Exonians during the summer months. The steps lead down to the Dakota Cafe and up to the Porters’ Lodge and main entrance, forming an important pathway through the site.

A donation of £7,000 will see your name engraved on a step in the South Quadrangle as a visible marker of your support of the new building.

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The steps in the South Quadrangle, leading down to the Dakota Cafe

Chair in the auditorium

Cohen Quad’s auditorium will be Exeter’s first above-ground lecture and performance venue.  It is a large, multi-purpose space that offers modern facilities for a wide range of activities.

A donation of £2,000 will ensure there is a chair named in your honour in this exciting part of Cohen Quadrangle.

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The auditorium

There are opportunities to invest in other parts of Cohen Quad, too. To see the full range of projects to support such as the Cairncross Kitchen and the Maddicott and Eltis Rooms, please click here.

To make or to discuss a donation, please contact Development Director Katrina Hancock.