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The Rothermere Institute for American Studies


Oxford, UK


Oxford University

Gross Floor Area m²



The Rothermere American Institute is a new academic facility providing a library, classrooms and offices in the historically sensitive setting of the Mansfield College and its gardens. Fred Pilbrow was design partner for the project whilst a partner at KPF.

Lauded as “one of the most beautiful recent buildings in Oxford”, the award-winning project is conceived as a pavilion to address a garden quadrangle between the new building and Mansfield College – the level of the garden having been lowered to that of the moat around the Mansfield principal’s lodge – allowing the Institute’s four-storey mass to align with the parapet of the adjacent Mansfield College library.

A modern interpretation of the neighbouring library, a Grade 1 listed neo-Gothic structure, the institute shares the organisation of the Mansfield College and its library which is set atop a plinth of teaching spaces. In the new building, the spacious library reading room is situated above a lecture hall, seminar rooms and offices for visiting academics. It is a lofty, light-filled volume that overlooks the garden, and serves both to provide a focus for the life within the building and to announce the institute to the outside world. In both buildings, bay windows become places for readers.

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