Exeter College has officially opened the largest addition to its buildings since 1315 – providing 90 new bedrooms for its students.
Located on Walton Street, and designed by Alison Brooks, the new quadrangle allows the college to guarantee accommodation to its members for at least three years. Named in honour of the parents of the lead donor, Sir Ronald Cohen, ‘Cohen Quad’ provides new study-bedrooms, communal kitchen/dining areas, as well as new teaching, storage, and recreational spaces.
The opening of Cohen Quad marks a major step forward for Exeter College, Oxford as it moves into its eighth century
In a statement on the college’s website, Rector Professor Sir Rick Trainor said “Cohen Quad provides, in a beautiful environment designed by architect Alison Brooks, a wide range of services for all members of the Exeter College community, including students, fellows, staff and alumni”.
“The opening of Cohen Quad marks a major step forward for Exeter College, Oxford as it moves into its eighth century”.
Its architect, Alison Brooks, was equally happy with the project’s outcome. “Cohen Quad has exceeded our expectations”, she said.
“Even though we model in 3D, there are some things that have really flowered through being built and I think the proportions of the space are wonderful and feel better and more lofty than even we imagined”.
Supported by £18m in donations, students were able to move into Cohen Quad at the beginning of Hilary Term. The January move-in, while well received, was a significantly late one – with the project until that point being beset with embarrassing delays.
With planned completion being originally the 11th August, then 6th October, then 31st October, and finally the 3rd December; moving in was eventually deferred until Hilary Term. In the meantime, the college was forced to house 86 students in the £115 per night Jury’s Inn outside of town.
At the time, priority to live in college was given to finalists, those with coursework or dissertations, and those with health issues; but the situation remained far from ideal. Dozens of students remained stranded at the out-of-town hotel for the duration of the term; with approximately half of them being forced to move in and out up to three times over the course of Michaelmas.
That being said, those staying at the hotel were put up in “stylish” rooms and had access to storage, a common room space, as well as the hotel’s facilities. The college too funded all accommodation costs as well as provided bus passes for students to get into the city centre more easily.
We now have the option to avoid 52-week rents, hefty deposits and administration fees, and potentially difficult landlords
The construction of the new quad of course removes these problems, and on its website Exeter College was keen to stress the role the new accommodation would play in saving its students from the scramble for private accommodation in future. Isabella Neil, an English finalist, said: “We now have the option to avoid 52-week rents, hefty deposits and administration fees, and potentially difficult landlords”.
“We are just settling in at the moment, but it is clear to see that Cohen is going to be a huge part of college life at Exeter”.