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Wed May 18 2022

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Laing O’Rourke selected for Oxford’s humanities building

5 Jan The University of Oxford has appointed Laing O’Rourke to lead construction of a new £170m faculty building for humanities.

The University of Oxford's Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities is designed by Hopkins Architects
The University of Oxford's Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities is designed by Hopkins Architects

The Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities will be Laing O’Rourke’s 12th project for the University of Oxford since 2003 – and one of the university’s biggest ever single building projects.

The building is named after US tycoon Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman and chief executive of private equity firm The Blackstone Group. He has donated £150m to the project.

The new building, designed by Hopkins Architects, will bring nine faculties and institutes and seven libraries and collections into one home, with spaces for graduate, postgraduate and post-doctoral learning and research. A 500-seat concert hall forms a key element of the project, along with a 250-seat theatre and a film screening area. It will form the centrepiece of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ), between Walton Street and Woodstock Road.

Construction is set to start in autumn 2022, with completion expected in spring 2025, enabling the new facilities to come into operation in autumn 2025.

Laing O’Rourke said that its team will be led by Steve Holland, who most recently oversaw delivery of the Oxford Biochemistry (phase two) project together with previous ROQ projects.

Steve Holland said: “Our two decades of delivery with the University of Oxford has allowed us to demonstrate the power of our experience, delivering complex schemes by working in close partnership with our clients. Our plan ensures teaching and learning continues, soft lands construction delivery with neighbouring buildings and maintains public access and engagement throughout.

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“The Humanities building will also allow us to draw on our experience of delivering performance spaces. We’re currently on site at Soho Place in London nearing completion of a building that houses the first theatre to be built in the West End for 50 years and in Manchester our teams are constructing The Factory, which will become home to the Manchester International Festival.

“We are privileged to be appointed to complete the heart of the ROQ in Oxford, a project of such purpose, for all that it is to be human. The building will be delivered to Passivhaus energy performance standards, utilising our blend of offsite manufacturing capability and direct delivery to enable the certainty required.”

University of Oxford project director Jennifer Makkreel said: "Laing O’Rourke demonstrated that they shared the university's vision for the exciting possibilities of the Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities and we are looking forward to working with them. They have nearly two decades of experience of collaborative project delivery of complex University buildings, including on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site."

Laing O’Rourke has previously delivered the following facilities to the University of Oxford:

  1. Department of Chemistry, 2003
  2. Department of Biochemistry, Phase 1, 2008
  3. Department of Earth Sciences, 2010
  4. Sommerville College, 2011
  5. Radcliffe Infirmary, 2012
  6. Andrew Wiles Building – Mathematical Institute, 2013
  7. Blavatnik School of Government, 2015
  8. St Luke’s Chapel, 2016
  9. Radcliffe Primary Care Building, 2016
  10. Beecroft Building for Physics, 2018
  11. Department of Biochemistry, Phase 2, 2020.

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