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Tue June 22 2021

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Stepnell starts second Oxford University library extension

3 Jun 16 Stepnell has begun construction of a £13.5m extension to St John’s College library at the University of Oxford.

A computer-generated image of the new library and study centre at St John’s College, Oxford
A computer-generated image of the new library and study centre at St John’s College, Oxford

The contract award follows Stepnell’s refurbishment and extension last year of the New Library at Magdalen College. Both schemes were designed by Wright & Wright Architects.

The new facility will provide a two-storey study centre and central archive within part of the President’s Garden. It will link the college’s Canterbury Quadrangle, which houses three of its four listed libraries – the Laudian Library, the Paddy Room and the 15th century Old Library – from The Groves area of St John’s College, a Grade II-listed park and garden, through to the President’s Garden.

St John’s College principal bursar Andrew Parker said: “A group of Fellows from St John's visited the works at Magdalen in the closing phases of that project. We were very impressed with what we saw and we are sure that we will see the same high standards at St John's.”

The new building, which will join the Laudian Library at the first-floor, will double the current library seating facilities and significantly increase book shelving capacity. The facility will also feature a variety of study spaces.           

The basement will provide a climate controlled archive area which will consolidate the College’s rare books and special collections in one central location. Power and heating for the new building will be generated from renewable sources of energy in the form of ground source heating from under the Great Lawn in The Groves area and photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new study centre.

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Artist Susanna Heron has been commissioned by the college to create a shallow relief and engraving carved on the external stone wall of the study centre.

The topsoil from the Great Lawn will be removed, stored and reinstated following completion of the building and re-landscaping of the garden. The project is due for completion in late 2017.

“We are delighted to have been selected to build this exciting and challenging new scheme for St John’s College and to be working again with its talented designers Wright & Wright Architects,” said Stepnell regional director Steve Burgess. “The new library and study centre will provide students with an enhanced learning environment along with much-needed flexible space and state-of-the-art equipment to meet 21st century requirements. We are also looking forward to working again with the local supply chain and seeing this fantastic facility take shape.”

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