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
At the heart of Cohen Quad will be a café serving hot and cold food and drinks. The café will form a social hub for students and fellows to meet, make friends and lifelong connections, and exchange ideas. It will be named the Dakota Café after the Dakota Foundation, founded by alumnus Bart Holaday (1965, PPE), which has supported the Walton Street development as part of its mission to enhance human capabilities through activities that combine business discipline with charitable intent.
Architect render of the Dakota Café
Exeter alumnus and member of the Dakota Foundation board Justin Bronder (2003, Astrophysics) visited Cohen Quad in January 2016 with his wife Jennifer (2002, Music) to see how work is progressing at the site.
Inspecting the site from Worcester Place
“I remember being briefed on the planned extension of the College and being blown away by the vision,” he said. “I thought about what it would mean to me, if I were a student again, to have amazing facilities like that so close to the centre of Oxford and to the College’s main site. When I thought about what future Exeter students will have I was kind of a bit jealous!
“I lived at Exeter House before it was renovated. It was part of the Oxford experience I enjoyed, but you might say it was ‘gritty’! Rector Cairncross came to Exeter a year after I started with a vision and did a great job making that vision reality. Exeter House has now been renovated for members of the MCR and the development at Walton Street is a continuation of that vision, with amazing accommodation for members of the JCR and study facilities for the whole College. Cohen Quad has got all the facilities that appeal to modern, professional students. Today it is students at other colleges who will be jealous of Exeter!
Exeter’s Development Assistant Rosemary Hurford (centre) talks Justin and his wife Jennifer through the construction work and the vision for the site
“The Dakota Café reflects the habits of students and professionals and today’s culture. We live in a café culture. The Dakota Café will be an important part of the academic and social life of the College. I’m proud to serve on an organisation that helps make that possible for Exeter.”
Justin and Jennifer in front of what will be the lecture theatre and north-facing quadrangle
We would like to wish all the readers of this blog a very happy Christmas and to say that we will be back with our regular updates in the New Year. We hope that you are all as excited about 2016 as we are – it’s the year that Cohen Quadrangle opens its doors to students, academics, staff and visitors!
Amanda McDonald came up to Exeter in 1991 to read English. She has many happy memories of her time at the College and has remained in touch with many of her Exeter friends.
Sadly, Amanda is now very ill and her friends have decided to come together to commemorate her time at Exeter by naming a student bedroom in her honour at Cohen Quad. Together, they will donate £10,000 to make the dream a reality.
Charlotte Morgan (1991, English) said: “Amanda has been my dearest friend since College days. We love to imagine future students gossiping, drinking bad coffee and generally having the time of their lives in ‘her’ room, just as we did all those years ago.”
Amanda returned to Exeter this week with her husband Dean, her father Alan and three of her greatest College friends. After lunch, she and Dean renewed their wedding vows in the Chapel, where they were married in July 2010. At the end of their visit, they drove to Walton Street to take a look at Cohen Quad as it goes up.
Amanda said: “Exeter College is a very special place for me and I’m thrilled with the idea of the Amanda McDonald Room. It means so much to me and my family that I will be remembered in this way.”
After leaving university Amanda went on to a build a successful career in marketing and advertising, becoming MD of a marketing agency in the Midlands. Her insights into community marketing have proved invaluable for us at Exeter and we’d like to thank her for sharing her inspiring ideas about building vibrant alumni communities, many of which shaped this very blogsite.
If you would like to make a donation towards the Amanda McDonald Bedroom, please contact us.
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.
Bart Holaday came to Exeter as a Rhodes Scholar from North Dakota in 1965. He read for a two-year PPE degree and became heavily involved in College life.
Fast-tracking 50 years, Bart remembers clearly his first discussion in 2009 with former Rector Dame Frances Cairncross about the opportunity to purchase the site for sale on Walton Street. He admired her commitment and vision and was delighted to be involved in the plans for the new campus from the outset.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to expand the College’s footprint in such a significant way 700 years after our foundation, and it’s a great thing for the University too,” Bart said in a phone call to us recently. “My wife Cathy and I were taken in by the College’s ambition to achieve this enormous project and we are delighted to play our part in bringing Exeter’s third quadrangle into existence.”
Bart fully believes that Exeter should offer more modern facilities to students. During his two years at the College he lived in staircase 7 on the Front Quad and in a room in Margary Quad, which was then only two years old and which offered some of the most modern accommodation in Oxford at the time. He feels it is only right that the College develop 21st century residential and study space to better meet the needs of today’s students.
Bart and Cathy are particularly excited by the thoughtful design of Cohen Quadrangle, with its intermingled learning and living spaces. Bart feels strongly that as much of his Oxford education happened outside his tutorials as in them, such as the spontaneous discussions that happened in the undercroft buttery, or the debates that took place over dinner in Hall. During his time at Oxford he met students of many nationalities and from many backgrounds, who influenced him profoundly and encouraged him to broaden his perspective.
Through their family foundation, the Dakota Foundation, Bart and Cathy have made a gift to Cohen Quadrangle to support precisely this: the interdisciplinary, intellectual-come-social contact that springs up in collegiate spaces. In recognition of this gift, Exeter is delighted to name the Dakota Café at Cohen Quad in Bart and Cathy’s honour.
The Dakota Café, serving hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, cakes and other snacks, will be at the heart of Cohen Quadrangle. It will have plentiful seating space and an open, friendly feel, where students can meet to socialise or study – or both. With WiFi throughout and generous opening hours, it will be a popular part of Cohen Quad. In many ways, it has been devised to echo those same gatherings and discussions that Bart experienced as a student at Exeter in the 1960s, in a modern setting.
Bart finished our call by saying how much he has enjoyed following the genesis of Cohen Quad and how excited he is by its imminent opening. He feels there could be no better way for Exeter to enter its eighth century than by expanding its physical footprint in this way. “Cohen Quadrangle is innovative, creative and focussed on students: what a vastly positive thing this is for Exeter College.”
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!