The world-class Saïd Business School, the business school of the University of Oxford, is undergoing a major transformation. In June 2011 a topping out ceremony marked the completion of the superstructure for the extension to the School, which is expected to be completed in summer 2012.
Leading architectural practice Dixon Jones designed the new building, which will provide additional facilities for an expansion of its teaching and educational activities. The building will encompass three Harvard-style lecture theatres, seminar rooms and social space, including a bar, restaurant and roof terrace. Main contractors for the project are Chalegrove Properties Ltd (CPL), who are registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme.
Examining the south elevation, there is an entrance pavilion clad in limestone with a granite base. The two-storey pavilion has a centrally placed door in it and approximates to a cube (11 x 12 x 10.5m). The west elevation has two readings. Firstly, the stone cube of the entrance pavilion forms a head to the extended three-storey body of the building to the north. Secondly, in order to moderate the bulk of the body (47m in length and three storeys high), the façade is divided into a base, middle and top.
With regards to the north elevation, the wall of the building is set back 4m from the site boundary, behind the 2.5m ventilation slot that continues the idea of a moat already established by the service ramp. The wall continues the language of the west elevation with a 2m setback to the second floor and is composed of brick. The site boundary is defined by a metal fence, allowing climbing plants to establish a green wall to the south side of the footpath and avoiding the possibility of graffiti.
The east elevation facing the garden is open and expressive. A double height pergola forms a ‘front’ to the garden which incorporates the stepped ramp with connections to the terrace at the first floor. The super structure to hold the plants is made of oak, whilst the columns to the pergola are made of limestone. The walls are generally formed from brick in order to match the existing building, whilst there are also large areas of glass and metal spandrel panels to the terrace and social areas.
Mr Wafic Saïd commented: ‘This building has been part of the vision for the Saïd Business School from the moment that the University bought this site. We knew that, if the School was a success, it would outgrow its original building in ten years and so it has proved. This Phase II building represents a new and exciting stage in the School’s development, one which provides not only for growth but which also brings the School’s degree and executive education programmes much more closely together for the benefit of both, from students embarking on their first degrees to CEOs seeking to understand the broader context for their work. I congratulate the School on the remarkable success that has brought it to this stage and also our architects, Dixon Jones, who with this second building are completing the work they began with Phase I, work which has done so much to regenerate this corner of Oxford.