Plans in for £150m Oxford uni humanities centre

Oxford University has submitted a planning application for a £150m humanities building.

The building will be constructed on an empty plot within the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter of the university. Its four storeys will be the new home for seven faculties in the humanities and will also include a new Institute for Ethics in AI, the Oxford Internet Institute and a new library.

The build also includes new performance venues designed by Hopkins Architects: a 500-seat concert hall, a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat Black Box lab to be used for experimental forms of performances.

The building will be built as per Passivhaus principles, which include low energy consuming heating and cooling systems, in line with the university’s goal to halve its carbon emissions by 2030. The plans are for an all-electric building, with a rooftop designed for solar power generation.

The application was submitted on the conclusion of two rounds of public consultations that took place in November and December last year and June and July this year. According to the university, more than 125 responses were received from local stakeholder groups, including heritage and residents’ groups, and individual respondents.

William Whyte, professor of social and architectural history at the University of Oxford, said the new building would be a “pioneering example of sustainability in architecture”.

The funding for the new block came as a gift from Stephen Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. The centre will be named after the benefactor.

If the application is green lit by Oxford City Council by spring, the new centre will be on track for delivery in 2025.

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