Professor Christina de Bellaigue, Jackson Fellow in Modern History, moved from Turl Street to Cohen Quad at the start of term. She is now installed in one of the Fellows’ teaching rooms on the third floor of Cohen Quad and her office looks out over the auditorium towards the western outskirts of Oxford. Here’s what she says:
“As one of the Fellows who has just moved into Cohen Quad, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who made it possible. It’s an inspiring building to work and teach in, even still in progress, and the views are fantastic. The building is going to bring such a new lease of life to the College.
“I held a workshop on admissions, outreach and access in the Kloppenburg Room on Tuesday. It was fantastic, we could all hear what each participant was saying, the room was comfortable and accessible to everyone, and we had lots of good ideas about how we could make good Exeter’s commitment (dating back to 1314!) to recruit the most able students from all walks of life, and honour the spirit of Ruskin College (which was established to extend access to education, and on whose former site Cohen Quad now stands). It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to organise events like this because we now have the space. I’m confident that the building will become a hive of intellectual activity and a key hub for academic exchange.
“I also love walking around and seeing the students at work in the Learning Commons or chatting over coffee, and I can’t wait to use the Special Collections rooms to teach some of them. On a personal level, after 10 years at Turl Street, I feel re-energised and ready for anything.”
The view from Professor de Bellaigue’s teaching room
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.
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.
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!
Paving leading into the amphitheatre steps of Benson Quad
It is with great excitement that we can announce completion of the fundraising for the John Maddicott Teaching Room at Cohen Quad. Between them, just under 30 alumni have made gifts that total slightly over £100,000 – the target set to fund and name the room in Dr Maddicott’s honour.
When we shared this achievement with Dr Maddicott he said: “I’m delighted to hear this news and proud of the commitment my former students have made to the College’s future. Their most welcome support will help future generations of Exonians to benefit from first-class teaching in the same warm collegiate environment which we all enjoyed in the past.”
Dr Maddicott inspects what will be the Maddicott Room in Cohen Quad
The Maddicott Room at Cohen Quad will be used for tutorial and seminar teaching – for historians and indeed for students in all disciplines. And it is a very fitting way to celebrate one of Exeter’s longest serving Fellows who is so warmly admired and respected by his former pupils.
Dr Maddicott came to Exeter in 1969 having undertaken his first degree and doctorate at Worcester College and served as Official Fellow and Lecturer in Medieval History until he retired in 2006. He has taught more than 200 Exonians, as well as students from other colleges. His recent publications include The Origins of the English Parliament, 924-1327 (on which subject he gave the University’s prestigious Ford Lectures in 2004) and, more recently, Founders and Fellowship: The Early History of Exeter College, Oxford, 1314-1592 to coincide with the College’s 700th anniversary in 2014 (more details, including how to purchase a copy can be found here).
We are very grateful to all those alumni whose generosity has made the naming of this room possible and we look forward to planning, with Dr Maddicott, a formal opening of his teaching room in the 2016-17 academic year.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This article was written by the Deputy Director of Development, Tessa Stanley Price, and appears in printed form in the 2015 edition of Exon magazine.
Exon was sent out in August 2015 to alumni and Friends of the College. An electronic version can be viewed here.
Picture the scene: 0th Week of Michaelmas Term 2016, just over a year from now. Our returning Finalists are heaving their belongings into College after the Long Vac. Nothing unusual about that, except this time they are not unpacking on Turl Street, but on Walton Street in Jericho. Exeter’s long-awaited third quadrangle is finally open for business.
Exeter was always clear that its new campus had to be much more than a glorified dormitory building or a secondary annexe to the main College. Yes, additional student accommodation was sorely needed, but so too was teaching, study and relaxation space. The brief for our architects was therefore to develop a full quadrangle that would represent the “collegiate ideal”, where students and scholars live, teach and learn alongside each other. The support of a great many alumni and Friends has enabled Exeter to transform this vision into bricks and mortar.
One of the challenges presented by the physical expansion of the College is the connection of the two sites – how can we link a 21st century building to historic Exeter, with its 600-year-old Palmer’s Tower, 19th century chapel and Jacobean dining hall? One way is by bringing some of Exeter’s creative past onto the new campus. The College’s original William Morris carpet has been removed from the Rector’s Lodgings to be cleaned and restored before being hung on the ground floor of Cohen Quad, and display units nearby will feature changing exhibitions on College history.
Next to the Morris carpet will stand a proud acquisition for the new quadrangle: two stained glass windows designed and executed by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, who met as undergraduates at Exeter in the 1850s. The stunning windows portray scenes from four biblical parables. They will be purchased from a church in north London thanks to the gifts of many Exonians and Friends, including six members of one family in memory of their husband, father and grandfather. We hope these installations will help to merge Exeter’s past, present and future.
“History” is also represented more literally on the site: one of the quadrangle’s five ground-floor seminar rooms will be named the Maddicott Room in recognition of the service Dr John Maddicott, Fellow in History from 1969 to 2006, has given Exeter. Dr Maddicott remains active in writing and research, and published Founders and Fellowship: The Early History of Exeter College, Oxford to coincide with Exeter’s 700th anniversary in 2014. Many of his former students have chosen to make a donation in his honour and we hope to reach our £100,000 target by Christmas. From five-figure donors to the recent graduate who gives £20 a month, everyone is doing their bit, at the level they are comfortable with.
The first, second and third floors of the campus are residential. Each student will have a single room with generous desk space and an en-suite bathroom. Older Exonians will no doubt be glad to hear that students no longer need to wander down lengthy corridors, nor cross quads to basement bathrooms, to perform their ablutions! The bedrooms are available for naming and many people have already made donations to secure “their” room on the site.
On each residential floor there will be kitchens for student use, the largest of which will be the Cairncross Kitchen. Named in honour of Rector Frances Cairncross and her 10 years’ service to the College (during which time she conceived the vision for a new campus and oversaw Cohen Quad’s purchase), it will be a place for students to come together, cook and relax. 135 generous people have given nearly £140,000 to honour Frances and provide this shared space, which to her represents such an important part of collegiate living.
The College has a long tradition of making use of subterranean space (think of the Saskatchewan, Quarrell, Balsdon and Stapeldon Rooms, and the College Bar). Cohen Quad is no exception. Its basement will house our 30,000 rare books and manuscripts; the first time they will have been kept in one place and in climate-controlled conditions. An adjacent reading room will open up access to these special collections in an unprecedented way.
All these projects would be no more than pipe dreams if it hadn’t been for the enormous generosity of Exeter alumni and Friends over the last few years, through gifts large and small.
Cohen Quad, the most significant expansion in Exeter’s 700-year history, will be for everyone. It therefore shouldn’t be a surprise that so many people have contributed to its creation. We hope that even more will choose to do so as we countdown to the 2016 grand opening.