Oxford University’s application to build the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site was approved by Oxford City Council at a planning meeting on Tuesday 8 March, 2022.
The University has also received an additional £25 million gift towards the Centre from Mr Schwarzman, bringing his total gift to £175 million.
The unanimous approval from the City Councillors allows the University to start construction on the Centre later this year ahead of its opening in 2025.
The Centre will boost teaching and research in the humanities at the University, providing seven faculties with a new home, plus the Institute for Ethics in AI, the Oxford Internet Institute, and a new library. It will also house a full suite of high-quality exhibition and performance spaces, allowing public audiences to engage more deeply with the University. The Centre will be a model for the essential role of the humanities in helping the world to confront some of the most pressing questions and challenges it faces today.
The Centre has been made possible by a £150 million gift to the University in 2019 from Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone, one of the world's leading investment firms. Mr Schwarzman has now given an additional £25 million gift to the University, raising his total support for the project to £175 million.
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: 'I am absolutely delighted that Oxford City Council has approved our application to build the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities. This building will be a fabulous addition both to the cultural life of the city and to the intellectual and social life of the University, now and for generations to come. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Mr Schwarzman for his exceptionally generous additional gift of £25 million which will enable us to realise the vision we presented to the Council.'
Stephen A. Schwarzman said: “I am pleased to support the University with this additional gift and look forward to seeing the impact the Centre will have on Oxford students, faculty, community members and the world for years to come. Oxford has a unique opportunity to share and apply its leadership in the humanities to the most fundamental questions of the 21st century and I’m proud of the role the Centre will play in this mission.”
Professor William Whyte, Professor of Architectural History at the University of Oxford, said: 'It is thanks to the hundreds of conversations with scores of people across the city over the last two years that we’ve been able to create such an inspirational design for a building which will be a pioneering example of sustainability in architecture. Construction work on the site will begin in earnest in October and we cannot wait to welcome the public into the Centre when it opens in 2025. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities will transform the work of our scholars by providing a new home for research and teaching in Oxford Humanities.”
The timeline for construction will be as follows:
- April to September 2022: Enabling works will begin on the site.
- May-June 2022: A new website will be launched with information on progress on the site, and the first newsletter will be sent out.
- October 2022: Construction will begin on the site in earnest. Hoardings will be erected around perimeter offering viewpoints for people to see what is happening.
- 2025: The building will open.