Warks constructor to build first new uni college in Oxford for 30 years

Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford

Rugby-based Morgan Sindall Construction has been selected by the University of Oxford to deliver a £15 million programme of work to build a new home for the University’s first new college in three decades: Reuben College.

The company will expand, renovate and reconfigure the Grade II listed Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) to create fully accessible, flexible spaces for the College’s Common Room and areas for quiet study, group meetings and social occasions. The works also include the modernisation of the RSL on the top floor and the refurbishment of a two-level basement to serve as a high-quality storage and teaching facility for museum collections.

Facilities which will be built specifically for Reuben College students include a new dining hall, common room, study areas, and offices for college members. When it opens next year, the college will initially welcome up to 100 (rising to 200 annually) graduate research students, studying in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, environmental change and cellular life.

Morgan Sindall Construction was appointed through the University’s capital projects partner framework, having won a place on all three of the frameworks lots when it was launched last summer.

Last month, the University received a landmark £80 million gift from the Reuben Foundation – a charitable organisation which focuses on healthcare and education. The donation will support both the new college and the establishment of major new scholarship programmes for Reuben College graduate students and for undergraduate students.

Opened in 1901 and located in the heart of the Oxford University Science Area, the current RSL building is the main teaching and research science library at the University. Within the three upper floors, it holds the legal deposit material for all mathematical, physical, engineering and life sciences (MLPS) and medical disciplines. The two basement floors, added in 1975, are used primarily to store the University’s museum collections.

The redevelopment project was commissioned by a partnership of three University stakeholders: the Bodleian Libraries, which includes the Radcliffe Science Library and is the largest university library system in the UK; the four University museums – Ashmolean Museum, History of Science Museum, Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum; and Reuben College (formerly known as Parks College) – the first new Oxford college established since 1990.

Construction work will begin imminently and complete in time for the new academic year in 2021.

James York, area director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “The RSL is steeped in history; both the building itself and the invaluable knowledge and records contained within its books, manuscripts and museum collections.

“Our work will ensure they can be preserved and displayed for years to come, while also serving as an inspiration to the next generation of post-graduate students studying in the first Oxbridge college to be established in three decades.

“We’re very proud to be collaborating with all of the stakeholders involved to ensure the successful delivery of this multi-faceted project; one which holds such significance to both the University’s past, and its future.”

Professor Lionel Tarassenko, President of Reuben College, and Catriona Cannon, Project SRO and Fellow of the College, added: “Morgan Sindall Construction impressed us from the start with their enthusiasm and commitment to the vision underpinning this project. We are delighted to be working with them, and confident that they will deliver our refurbished buildings with 21st century facilities in a way that is sensitive to their historic surroundings.”