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
This week we’ve been excited to see some of the exterior of Cohen Quadrangle! As scaffolding starts to come down the upper floors have been revealed on both Walton Street and Worcester Place.
You can begin to get a sense of the dramatic new roof and dormer windows and how they curve into the brickwork of the original Edwardian building. The chequerboard look of the roof is very clear and striking but remains very muted in colour, as planned.
The views over Jericho are stunning, particularly from the full glass dormer which can be seen in the picture above, just where the scaffolding restarts along Worcester Place.
With clear views over the Blavatnik School of Government and the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, this dormer window provides a special recess on the top floor in which you can reflect over the dreaming spires.
Work continues apace and it won’t be long before even more of the building will be visible.
As the Fellows start to think about the year ahead, four are preparing to move into Cohen Quad and will reside in the stunning Fellows’ Sets on the third floor of the building.
A Fellow’s Set – work in progress!
Alongside Philipp Kukura (we posted about his impressions and expectations of Cohen Quad in July), Christina de Bellaigue, Jackson Fellow in Modern History, will also be moving to Cohen Quad.
Having recently visited the site, she said: “I’ve just been down to Cohen Quad with Gez [Wells, the Deputy Bursar] and am so impressed. It really is stunning and will be a hugely invigorating space for us all to work and teach in”.
Another Fellow’s Set
And how a Fellow’s Set will look when completed
We can tell she’s really excited as she has opted to move from her lovely set on the Front Quad at Turl Street and is looking forward to teaching some of her tutorials in the Neil Blair Special Collections Reading Room where students will be able to study from our own archives and special collections.
The Neil Blair Special Collections Reading Room
And how the Reading Room will look when finished
Over the last week, some of the scaffolding has been removed from the south cloister of Cohen Quad, revealing the upper levels of the building.
The Rimex tiling is in place and the checker-board pattern is clearly established along the exterior walls. It really highlights the stunning dormer windows which protrude and will flood the internal corridors and rooms with natural light.
We are also now able to see the beautiful curve of the roof-line as the tiles wrap around the roof and down the walls, creating a seamless cloak around the building.
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.
A fellow’s teaching room on the third floor of Cohen Quad
A fellow’s teaching room on the third floor of Cohen Quad
Architect’s render of a finished teaching room
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
Fitting the Rimex metal roof tiles