Largest ever university donation drives ambitions for new humanities building at Oxford University

Radcliffe Observatory Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre

Oxford University has submitted plans for the construction of a £150 million new humanities building to include academic faculty space, concert, theatre and lecture halls at the Radcliffe Observatory quarter on Woodstock Road.

Designs by Hopkins Architects, The Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities at the University of Oxford has come to be from the largest single donation the University has received in its history.

It will pull together seven faculties, two Institutes and six Bodleian libraries along with a world-class Concert Hall and three other performance venues, exhibition and film spaces in a unique academic and public building in the centre of the city.

Hopkins Architects has been commissioned for all stages of the project working closely with the University, the donor and his team and with others stakeholders from the different faculties to create and define the distinct and overlapping elements of the programme for the building. It is hoped the project will go on site in 2022.

Oxford Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, said: “This is an investment in excellence, an investment in Oxford, an investment in the UK, an investment in the belief that understanding what it means to be human is as critical today as it ever was.”

For the first time in the University’s history, Oxford’s programmes in English, history, linguistics, philology & phonetics, medieval & modern languages, music, philosophy, and theology & religion will be housed together in a space designed to encourage experiential learning and bold experimentation through cross-disciplinary and collaborative study.

The Schwarzman Centre will also be home to Oxford’s new Institute for Ethics in AI which will build upon the University’s world-class capabilities in the humanities to lead the study of the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and other new computing technologies.

The building will include performing arts and exhibition venues designed to engage the Oxford community and the public at large. Modern amenities and digital capabilities will allow Oxford to share the full breadth of its unparalleled collections and research in the humanities. The Schwarzman Centre will serve as a dynamic hub dedicated to the humanities – those fields which inform our understanding and appreciation of the human experience.