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    New humanities building project underway as architect selected

    In an email to students, Head of Major Capital Projects Karen Brill announced the imminent revelation of the firm tasked with the development of the Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for Humanities, due to complete in Autumn 2024.

    The building will be situated at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter between Woodstock Road and Walton Street.

    Following a £150 million investment from the Blackstone Group CEO, the new centre will cover 23000 square metres and merge 6 faculty libraries: English, Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Music, History of Medicine and Film. It has been described by Sir Phillip Pullman as a “proper centre for the study and celebration of the humanities”

    The Humanities Division hopes this complex will provide much-needed room for growth, citing a 25% increase in doctoral student numbers since 2000-01 and more than twice as many postdocs and researchers. The Division seeks to promote interdisciplinary research while offering a hub for student work exhibitions.

    Once established, the complex will accommodate 200,000 collection items, seat over 400 readers, offer a range of teaching/research and performing arts facilities including a 500-seat music auditorium, 313 workspaces for graduates, broadcasting studios for public lecture sharing and additional accommodation for students pursuing certain divisional Master’s Degrees. 

    The project will also encompass new academic posts, graduate studentships and scholarships while supporting the department’s “research-oriented” culture programme and Ethics in AI institute.

    Oxford Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson said of the building: “This is an investment in excellence, an investment in Oxford.”

    The new library will be part of the Bodleian, featuring a range of study spaces informed by the Bodleian’s 21st Century Library report. The area, which will occupy 2,100 sqm, is comparable to the Taylorian.

    No occupational reshuffling is anticipated nor disruption to the mixed college and faculty teaching regime.

    Noise and Traffic contributions are expected to be minimal. Dialogue with the Oxford City Council and consultations with neighbours are planned, if not already underway.

    The Project Board has also assured stakeholders that they will be regularly informed, including Student Organisations such as the Student Union and Drama Society.

    Faculties not relocating, such as Classical and Oriental Studies, will be entitled to full use of the space, and access will also be granted to the wider University.

    Several Student consultation events are being organised, including a “brainstorming marquee” on the ROQ site in May 2020.

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