Exeter College purchased a much sought-after site in the centre of Oxford, with the intention of creating a new College campus. The Fellows needed expert advice on how to find the right architect for the project and approached MRC, who ran a private, invited competition on their behalf.
The College wished to create a new building with its own identity and presence but one that was complementary to the main College site. The development of the former Ruskin College offered the chance to provide outstanding living, teaching and study facilities.
MRC carried out a study and site analysis to establish a brief, mindful of the heritage of the site, the quality of the urban setting and the College’s desire to create a significant contribution to the City’s built environment.
We arranged a private invited competition, asking for genuine fresh thinking from competitors, not just models of the recent past. An initial long list of 26 international firms was, after an Expression of Interest, reduced to five. These were assessed through a process of building visits, speaking to past clients, office visits and advice from specialists and College alumni.
The competition was won by Alison Brooks Architects; notable for previously winning the UK’s three most prestigious awards for architecture: the Stirling Prize, the Manser Medal and the Stephen Lawrence Prize.
The new site was financed by a fundraising campaign in the period leading up to Exeter College’s 700th anniversary in 2014. The new Cohen Quad opened in March 2017.