Spoken word poetry, song and parkour performances took place on and around the building site for the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities this week, as Oxford University held a foundation ceremony to mark two years until the building is completed.
The Centre will boost research and teaching in the humanities at Oxford University and provide a new home which brings together seven faculties, the Institute for Ethics in AI, the Oxford Internet Institute, and a new humanities library. It has been made possible by a gift from Stephen A. Schwarzman, who is the Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms.
The ceremony was held on the site to reflect construction reaching its lowest point, or "bottoming out". In the coming months, the building will start to rise upwards it until it is finished in summer 2025.
Attendees included Oxford residents, local and regional cultural partners, and University staff. They were treated to performances by talented Oxfordshire-based groups. The performances were produced and promoted by the Cultural Programme, which puts on a diverse series of live and online events, working with cultural partners, performers and researchers.
Professor Dan Grimley, Head of Humanities at Oxford University, said: ’I am delighted that we have marked the next stage in the construction of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, which remains on track to open in 2025. The Foundation Ceremony was marked with some brilliant performances, which reflects the exciting cultural programming that will enliven the new building, for the benefit of everyone living in and around Oxford.’
Cultural Programme launches brand, website and new season
When the building is completed, many of its venues will be brought to life by performances from the Cultural Programme, which is part of the Humanities Division at the University of Oxford. The Programme is already working with outstanding artists, writers and thinkers from around the world to create and present world-class arts and culture. It aims to welcome audiences and communities into the heart of the research process at Oxford University through public engagement.
You can explore the Cultural Programme here: www.oxfordculturalprogramme.org.uk
The Everything is Connected programme takes inspiration from the idea that everything is connected in the human and natural world. This rich and varied series of conversations and events will be open to all, taking place in multiple locations across the City of Oxford and online.
John Fulljames, Director of the Cultural Programme at Oxford University, said: ’Everything is Connected is all about bringing people together for shared experiences. Oxford has such a rich cultural life and, by launching this season and our new website, we want to provide a platform to showcase and uplift all that our cultural partners have to offer. We hope as many people as possible will join us to enjoy this wonderfully diverse programme in October and November, and that they continue to engage and partner with us as we move towards the opening of the state-of-the-art venues in the Schwarzman Centre.’
The environmental theme connects back to the Schwarzman Centre building, which has been designed sustainably in keeping with the University’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact. The site is being powered entirely by electricity and recycled vegetable oil, and the building will have heat pumps, high levels of insulation, and promote of biodiversity through green spaces. Built to Passivhaus standards, it is envisaged that the project will set the standard expected in years to come for new developments.