In 2013 St Cross began planning a new West Wing building. The Niall McLaughlin design selected had strong and obvious references to complement the Perpendicular Gothic of Pusey House, with large, slender window surrounds. During the design process, it was decided to construct these window surrounds using Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC), to meet the constraints of weight, budget and planning.
The building work began in 2015 and was largely completed in the latter part of 2016. Since then the handsome West Wing building has transformed the way the College functions, with more students living on site. The wider College community has benefitted from having access to a large library, lecture theatre, and meeting rooms.
However, the final stages of the building work were complicated when the main contractor and subsequently the GRC sub-contractor both went into administration. Shortly after the building was fully completed, it was discovered that the GRC window surrounds had begun to deteriorate. There were no safety issues, but it became clear that replacement was necessary.
Following thorough studies of a large range of options, the permanent solution selected for this replacement involves the use of anodised aluminium surrounds, which will meet both structural and aesthetic considerations. This solution has now received planning permission. The removal of the GRC and the installation of the new aluminium surrounds will cause periodic disruption on site, particularly to users of the building. With that in mind, the College has decided to close the building, with the exception of the Library, for the 2022/23 academic year. Whilst the work is not expected to take a full year to complete, this timeframe will allow us to make suitable arrangements for accommodation and events. The College will also be able to address other concerns with how the building operates whilst it is empty.
Whilst it has taken time to find a permanent solution to the issues with the window surrounds, the College team is confident that the right solution and contractor have been found. We look forward to being able to enjoy the building for many years to come – and to a proper re-opening event in due course.
The below fly-through video illustrates the proposed changes to the building façade.