Press 10.03.2022

Planning success for Oxford University’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for Humanities

Plans for a new £150m state-of-the-art Humanities building at the University of Oxford’s historic Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site has received unanimous approval through committee.

The Hopkins-designed building, named after its benefactor philanthropist and businessman Stephen A. Schwarzman, will provide modern academic, exhibition, library and performance spaces for the University's humanities faculties, which includes English, History, Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics, Medieval and Modern Languages, Music, Philosophy, and Theology and Religion. The proposed development also includes significant improvements to the public realm through the creation of a highly accessible and green campus landscape.

Gillespies' public realm and landscape proposals will create a welcoming new gateway to the University's campus, with improved pedestrian and cycle connections and a series of distinctive landscapes to the north and south of the building. These include a large central lawn with pockets of vibrant planting and seating to the north, a large plaza space, lined with trees, seating and planting to the south for large events and gatherings, and an enclosed garden space to the east, providing tranquil spaces for intimate gatherings and occasional performances.

The improved public realm, urban greening, planting and ample cycle facilities will create a healthy new place within the city, encouraging active and sustainable travel to and from the campus, as well as opportunities for students, staff and visitors to reconnect with nature and each other.

Gillespies also delivered a comprehensive Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment to ensure the building was sensitive to its historical context.

Construction on the scheme is expected to start in late 2022.