Fellows and students enjoying Cohen Quad

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.”

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The view from Professor de Bellaigue’s teaching room

Fellows prepare to move in to Cohen Quad

Five of Exeter’s Fellows will move into Cohen Quad later this year. They are excited by the elegant and modern design and also by the Quad’s close proximity to the humanities hub at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and the science area.

Professor Philipp Kukura, Exeter’s Fellow in Physical Chemistry, will be among the five. He visited the building site recently and commented: ‘I cannot wait to welcome and teach my first tutorials in this wonderful new space!

‘Cohen Quad will have a transformative influence not only on Exeter College, but on the collegiate University as a whole. As important as the historical buildings are in making Oxford what it is, as critical will it be that the University provides living and teaching space that is suitable for the 21st century and truly competitive on the world stage.

‘I cannot remember visiting a higher education building that felt so futuristic, but so appropriate and inspiring at the same time.’

Professor Kukura’s teaching room will be on the third floor of Cohen Quad, adjacent to other fellows’ rooms and the Senior Common Room.

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A fellow’s teaching room on the third floor of Cohen Quad

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A fellow’s teaching room on the third floor of Cohen Quad

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Architect’s render of a finished teaching room

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Architect’s render of the completed Quad with the fellows’ teaching rooms and SCR, with their floor-to-ceiling windows and sloping roof, visible on the third floor

The Learning Commons at Cohen Quad

The Learning Commons will be at the heart of Cohen Quad – a place where, at a glance, you can see who’s there already and who’s arriving (a bit like the Front Quad really!). It’s on several different levels, with the café in the basement and a teaching room elevated above the mezzanine on the Worcester Place wall. The space will be used by undergraduate and graduate students, as well as Fellows, staff, and visitors, who want to use its flexible layout while working alone or in groups. With the café on hand with good coffee, and wifi to support multiple personal devices, this will be the academic hub of Cohen Quad.

The images show the architect’s rendering (bottom) and construction to date (top). The north cloister is already in place and the glazing to the North Quadrangle gives an indication of just how much natural light will flood this area. It still needs a bit of work, but the sense of fluid space is already clear. It won’t be long before the fixtures and fittings are in place.

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Part of the Learning Commons as it stands today – still a work in progress

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Architect’s render of how the Learning Commons will look once it is complete, from a similar position to the top photo

Fundraising for the Maddicott Teaching Room Completed!

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.”

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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.

Exploring the Special Collections

Exeter’s Special Collections Centre at Cohen Quadrangle will be unlike anything the College has ever had before.

The College owns around 30,000 rare books and some 80 medieval manuscripts, as well as 700 years’ worth of archive material (referred to all together as the Special Collections). These are currently stored in the basement of the College library and underneath staircase 9 in cramped and dusty conditions, inaccessible for scholars who may wish to consult them.

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The Soncino Bible, part of Exeter’s Special Collections. Printed in 1488, it is the first printing of the entire vocalized Hebrew Bible text
One of Exeter's special collections
Detail from the 14th century Bohun Psalter, owned by Katherine of Aragon

In February 2015 the College announced that Cohen Quad’s basement area will be developed expressly to house its rare books and manuscripts in a Special Collections Centre. This in turn frees up an entire wing in the library on Turl Street, enabling the College to provide additional and much-needed study space for students.

The large archive storage area at Cohen Quad will have brand new rolling stacks for easy access.  A smaller side room will act as a high-security storage area for the College’s most precious collections, including the 14th century Bohun Psalter (owned by Katherine of Aragon herself), the Soncino Bible (see image above) and a manuscript copy of Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars with marginal notes by Petrarch himself.

The rooms will have inbuilt temperature and humidity regulators to ensure optimum conditions for all these precious pages. They will be protected from fire and flooding with thick walls and metal doors, giving an extra four hours’ protection. They will also be fitted with a gas suppression system which forces oxygen out of the atmosphere, thus extinguishing fire without the need for sprinklers.

The rooms will also be highly secure, with alarmed entrances and CCTV footage throughout.

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The archive storage area under construction, with the floor newly laid for rolling stacks
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The high-security area for Exeter’s most precious books and manuscripts

This is the first time that Exeter’s rare books and archive materials will be kept in one place and under climate-controlled conditions. Not only this, but an adjacent reading room will open up access to the collections in an unprecedented way.

The reading room will boast a large table to be shared by anyone wishing to study these materials. The walls will be panelled in glulam and cherry veneer, echoing the materials used across the rest of the site. It will be cleverly and sensitively lit, mostly thanks to a large ceiling light that draws in natural light from the North Quadrangle.

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The reading room as it looks now…
Architect's rendering of the reading room at Cohen Quad
… and a render of the finished room

Joanna Bowring, the College Librarian, said:

Librarian Joanna Bowring

“The new Special Collections Centre at Cohen Quad will be nothing short of transformational for Exeter’s archives, manuscripts and rare printed books. For the first time, all of these historic collections can be kept together, in the correct environmental conditions. Exeter has extraordinary special collections and it’s so exciting that we can make them accessible and bring Exeter’s history to life in this way.”

To read more about Exeter’s special collections, please click here.

Exeter is looking forward to welcoming students, Fellows and visiting academics to the Special Collections Centre at Cohen Quadrangle, and is grateful to all the supporters who have made this project possible.

All in all, this is a basement with a difference!

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.

Imagination Versus Reality

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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.

Study

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The Learning Commons – autumn 2015. You can already make out the position of the hanging teaching room (top right-hand corner), with its long window. Soon the auditorium and North Quad will start to appear where the large gap is currently (see render directly below)
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The Learning Commons as it will be in autumn 2016, with the hanging room on the upper right-hand side and the view across the North Quad to the auditorium

Socialise

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The South Quad under construction – autumn 2015. You can already make out the stone steps (bottom centre of photo) leading down to the cafe. These steps will be bathed in afternoon and evening sunlight
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Architect’s render of the South Quad, with steps leading down to the cafe. The Learning Commons is directly above. Walk along the covered colonnade towards the right of the picture and you’ll reach the Porters’ Lodge
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Close-up of the cafe, with its indoor and outdoor seating areas. The servery is at the back of the photo

Sleep

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Student bedroom under construction – autumn 2015
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Architect’s render of a student bedroom
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Architect’s render of a student bedroom (note the two windows that already appear in the construction photo above)

Salute

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The Porters’ Lodge, autumn 2015. The archway is the main entrance to the building
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Render of the Porters’ Lodge, which will be a reality by autumn 2016!