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

Exeter College takes possession of Cohen Quad

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the College took possession of Cohen Quad on Friday 23rd December after a tremendous final push by all involved in getting the building ready. All those expecting to live and work at Cohen Quad this year will be able to do so from Sunday 8th January, including the students who will be resident there for the rest of the academic year. It has been a long journey and everyone has been incredibly supportive and patient as we have worked round the clock to see the building completed as quickly as possible.

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A completed study-bedroom

The 90 student study-bedrooms are now fully furnished as are the three family kitchens and most of the teaching rooms. We are in the process of putting the final touches to the Learning Commons, Student Common Room and Front Desk and, over the course of Hilary Term, will complete the auditorium and café, expecting to be able to serve food in the café from Monday of 1st Week. At just a 9-minute walk across town, we hope that all those based at the Turl Street site will take time to visit during Hilary Term: Cohen Quad is for all College members, whether they’re resident or not, and all students – graduates, undergraduates, and Williams – are welcome to come and go as they please. Cohen Quad really is our third quad and we are excited about the wonderful spaces and facilities it offers.

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A family kitchen

We know that many of our alumni and neighbours will be keen to visit. We will be in touch with details of opportunities to drop in: right now we’re focussed on getting the building up and running and making preparations for the formal opening on 18th and 19th March 2017 to which all donors will be invited.

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The entrance of Cohen Quad with colonade

It really is a superb building and, with scaffolding and protective covers removed, the light and the quality of the building materials provide a stunning environment for living and working. As the Sunday Times said this week, this is a building to watch in 2017!

 

Student bedrooms on first floor completely finished

Last week, the College team signed off on the first floor student bedrooms as all the construction and snagging was completed!

During the course of the week, mattresses and other soft furnishings have been arriving at Turl Street, and it won’t be long before they are rehoused at Cohen Quad.

The three images below show a student bedroom from three angles – the cupboard wall, against which the bed will be placed, the desk space with its lighting above and below the shelf, and the cupboards and drawers, which will provide storage and will house a fridge in each room.

Each room is around 16 square metres and is en-suite, with one large window and one small window to provide as much natural light as possible.

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The cupboard wall

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The desk space

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The storage space

Cohen Quad family kitchens completed

Last week saw the completion of the family kitchens at Cohen Quad, which now await the arrival of soft furnishings.

These three kitchens, envisaged by Rector Frances Cairncross, provide a central space on each residential floor where students can gather, cook and eat together, and get to know each other better.

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One of the completed family kitchens

The first floor kitchen will be named the “Cairncross Kitchen” at the request of many donors who wished to see Frances honoured at Cohen Quad. The kitchen on the second floor will be named the “McRae Kitchen” in recognition of her husband, Hamish McRae, who played an active role in the life of the College during Frances’s rectorship.

The third floor kitchen is at present unnamed and waiting for a donor who would like to support the style of community and collegiate living that Cohen Quad will offer. If you are interested in sponsoring this family kitchen please call 01865 279662.

 

Contractors put finishing touches on student rooms

Over the last few weeks, Mace (our contractors) have been working to finish specific areas of Cohen Quad ahead of handing the whole site over to us at the end of the calendar year.

Last week, focus was on snagging student bedrooms ahead of moving in furniture and fitting out the three student kitchens.

Two other key pieces of work were to build and install the pigeon holes that will be used by the Cohen Quad residents and to pave the Benson Quad and its amphitheatre steps. Each of these steps will be engraved with the names of donors who gave £7,000 or more during the 700th anniversary year and will provide a wonderful outdoor area adjacent to the café where students can sit out and enjoy a coffee – when it’s not raining of course!

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Paving leading into the amphitheatre steps of Benson Quad 

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The pigeon holes

Exeter students to move into Cohen Quad in January

Eighty-six Exeter students will move into their brand new College accommodation in Cohen Quad in January 2017. The Quad will welcome its first students at the start of Hilary Term.

The original aim was that the 86 students plus staff and fellows would move into Cohen Quad in October 2016, at the start of Michaelmas Term. The site is constrained and the building and construction process very complex, and construction has taken longer than anticipated. Students are therefore currently being housed at Jury’s Inn, a hotel in north Oxford, which provides a supportive environment for them, with College staff on site every day, a common room established for the students, and free bus passes provided to assist with transport. Some students have recently been able to move into accommodation provided by other colleges, nearer to the centre of Oxford.

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The Quad photographed by Fran Monks in November

The support of students – their academic and welfare needs – have been the College’s priorities throughout this period. To avoid unnecessary additional disruption, the students will continue to stay in either Jury’s Inn or their alternative student accommodation for the remainder of Michaelmas Term. They will move into their new accommodation at Cohen Quad after the Christmas vacation, for the start of Hilary Term.

In October a group of students visited Cohen Quad, all of whom will move into the accommodation in January. They were impressed with the building and they all remain excited to be living there next term and making use of the exceptional facilities that Cohen Quad offers. In the meantime, we’re providing support for all of our students and work continues on site apace.

Exeter JCR President Harry Williams, who is personally affected by the delays, commented, “Of course I was disappointed to hear that the development would not be completed on time, but I am pleased with the way the college have handled the situation so far.”

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Students visiting Cohen Quad in October

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