The Vice-Chancellor opens New College's Gradel Quadrangles

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Irene Tracey, opened New College's Gradel Quadrangles in an official ceremony on 13 April. The VC declared the Gradel Quadrangles open in presence of the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Lubna Arshad, Old Member and principal donor, Chris Gradel, alongside other invited guests.

The VC and Chris Gradel stand by the ceremonial stone in New College's Gradel Quadrangles

The Vice-Chancellor and Chris Gradel (Image: John Cairns)

The opening ceremony began with Matins in New College Chapel, following which fellows, students, and guests processed out of the college along Holywell Street and Mansfield Road to the site.

Over the past few years of construction, the buildings which have intrigued many passers-by were finally revealed to the public. Designed by David Kohn Architects, the Gradel Quadrangles represent one of the most exciting architectural additions to Oxford in recent history and have already been described by Historic England as “one of the very few instances where contemporary design can be considered genuinely outstanding”.

Working closely with the city council, the architect created a plan with curved quadrangles which snake around two listed buildings. A dramatic tower, which houses a new research institute into the subject of charity and charities, adds rhythm and variety to the streetscape of Mansfield Road and reflects the college’s towers on its main site. The new buildings also add to Oxford’s population of gargoyles, with some 25 new carvings adorning the stone facades at roof level, representing life forms which are threatened with extinction. Finally, below the quadrangles is a Recital Hall built to the most exacting acoustic standards.

Speaking before the opening, the Warden of New College, Miles Young, said:

“We are immensely grateful to Chris Gradel as the foundation donor of this project. It allows us to house 94 third year students in college, releasing pressure on the Oxford housing market. We are thrilled that, as novel and as original as they are, these buildings already feel like an intrinsic part of the college. Even though there’s still a little more work to do, they’ve already shown their usefulness.”