A question mark hangs over an ambitious multi-million pound building project that plans to bring humanities subjects together in the Radcliffe Observatory quarter.
Quoted in an Oxford Mail article, Mike Wigg, university Director of Capital Projects and Property Management, told the Jericho Community Association that “some of the ideas are under reconstruction” due to the “massive” cost. According to a brochure published online, although the central University has already agreed to invest £70 million to fund the extensive construction of the building, there is a funding gap of “around £100 million” that still needs to be filled by donations.
In the campaign brochure, Professor Sally Shuttleworth, Head of the Humanities Division, urges prospective donors to contribute to the new Humanities building, saying that it will “only be possible with considerable philanthropic support”.
With the site of the prospective library and teaching facilities between Walton Street and Woodstock Road currently boarded up, the section dedicated to the new humanities building on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter website describes the project as “on hold”, despite planning permission having been granted in as May 2010.
The brochure goes on to describe how English, History, Philosophy and Theology, Linguistics, Modern Languages, and Oriental Studies would all move into facilities within the proposed site, next to a new “unified” humanities library which would consolidate all the former subjects’ collections. The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art as well as the Music Faculty, would also transfer to new, purpose-built facilities in the quarter.
University Media Relations Officer Matt Pickles told Cherwell, “over the course of this year the Humanities Division and Bodleian Libraries are opening up a wide ranging debate about how to realise the original vision for the site. We will have more to say once this discussion has been completed”.
Bennetts Associates, the architects behind of the project, have recently been responsible for the design of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new theatre in Stratford Upon Avon.