Architect appointed for Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities

12 February 2020 

Oxford University has appointed Hopkins Architects to design the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.

The building will give Oxford’s humanities a new home with state-of-the-art academic, exhibition and performance spaces, a dedicated hub for engagement with schools, a new Institute for Ethics in AI, a new Humanities Library, and much-needed space for Humanities graduate students and researchers.

The Centre, which was made possible by a landmark £150 million gift from philanthropist and businessman Stephen A. Schwarzman, will be situated on the University’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site, near the Woodstock Road.

Hopkins Architects’ previous designs include Harvard University’s Smith Campus Centre, Yale University’s Kroon Hall, Princeton University’s Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Glyndebourne Opera House, and the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome.

Professor Karen O’Brien, Head of Humanities at Oxford University, said: “We were impressed by Hopkins’ track record in creating world-class arts and educational institutions, designing beautiful buildings in sensitive historic settings, and their commitment to creating environmentally sustainable buildings.

“In the coming months, their architects will meet regularly with our students and staff to develop an initial design for the building. Later in the year, we will present that design to the public and seek their feedback before Oxford City Council considers our planning proposal.

“Our aim is to create a building which becomes a treasured resource for the whole of Oxford, where anyone can come to enjoy high-quality performances, exhibitions and lectures. We are committed to making this Centre, and the landscaped spaces around it, accessible and welcoming to all. People can interact with the Schwarzman Centre long before the building is completed - we have already started a programme of cultural events which will include a month-long series of activities on the site of the future building in April and May.”

The building will house Oxford University’s faculties of English; History; Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics; Medieval and Modern Languages; Music; Philosophy; and Theology and Religion; and the Oxford Internet Institute, as well as a new library. It will also house the University’s new Institute for Ethics in AI.

The building will have flexible performance and exhibition spaces for music, theatre, film, dance and art, including a 500-seat auditorium and a 250-seat performance venue. These venues will feature programming from Oxford students and faculty, leading international artists, and regional arts organisations.

They also will provide much-needed space for the public to gather in Oxford for festivals and other cultural celebrations. The hub for schools engagement will provide dedicated space for sharing the work of humanities scholars and broadening access to Oxford.

Subject to planning permission, it is hoped that the building will open in the academic year 2024/25.

For further information contact Matt Pickles in the University of Oxford’s press office on or 07468 701499.

For more information on Hopkins Architects contact