The Rothermere Institute for American Studies

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. This is a project of KPF Architecture.

2001 – 2006

Construction Cost
£8 million

University of Oxford

Oxford, UK

Gross Floor Area
2 500 m²


The project originates from the aspirations of Dr John Rowett, the director who envisioned an interdisciplinary study centre about the Americas at the University of Oxford. The aim of the centre was to consolidate the various strands of history, politics and literature then separated into different departments throughout the university.

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.

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.