Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre
Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre

Planning application for Oxford University’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, designed by Hopkins Architects, has been submitted to Oxford City council

The planning application outlines how the centre has ambitious sustainability objectives and would benefit the city of Oxford as well as transform the work of its scholars.

The planning design showcases impressive entrances to the building, alongside a concert hall, and proposed green spaces which will surround the centre in Oxford University’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter.

The university held two public consultations in 2020 and 2021 to gather feedback on the initial proposals.

More than 125 responses were received from local stakeholder groups including heritage and residents’ groups and individual respondents.

‘A pioneering example of sustainability in architecture’

William Whyte, professor of architectural history at the University of Oxford, said: “We are grateful to the people of Oxford who gave feedback on our initial proposals and we are delighted to submit our final designs for planning permission.

“The Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities will transform the work of our scholars and offer untold opportunities for the city as a whole.

“An inspirational piece of design by a world-leading architectural practice, it will also be a pioneering example of sustainability in architecture.”

The planning application outlines many benefits, including:

  • Major new performances venues, including a 500-seat concert hall, a 250-seat theatre, and a 100-seat Black Box lab for experimental performance.
  • Exhibitions, lectures and performances which bring Oxford’s research to wide audiences.
  • A schools and public engagement centre to bring schoolchildren in Oxfordshire into contact with Humanities research and researchers.
  • New access routes and landscaping which opens up and connects the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and the surrounding area.
  • A café and other meeting spaces which are open to the public, and accessible without having to pass through a security barrier.

The centre will be a highly energy-efficient building designed according to Passivhaus principles and will include sustainable insulation, new green spaces, cycle parking, and solar-powered roofing.

The building also aims to be all-electric, with heat pumps rather than boilers.

Planning application has been made possible by a £150m gift to the University from Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone.

The building will boost teaching and research in the humanities at Oxford and provide them with a new home, which brings together seven faculties, a new institute for ethics in AI, the Oxford internet institute, and a new library.

Oxford city council will consider the application after a 13-week consultation period, and will make their decision in spring 2022.

If consent is given, the University aims to complete construction in 2025.

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