Beard, an Oxford-based family-run construction company, has recently completed one of its biggest projects in the history of the firm, with a major redevelopment at St Hilda’s College, in the University of Oxford.
The city’s famous skyline and its dreaming spires, have another architectural gem added to them with the completion at St Hilda’s, and the crowning of its tower in gold foliage.
The £20m Front of College project also represents the largest redevelopment of the college in its history, having been completed to mark its 125th anniversary.
Described as ‘architecturally stunning’ by the college, key aspects of the estate have been altered as part of the project, including the entrance, the street view and the riverside frontage.
The brief was to provide student accommodation (54 bedrooms) and to bring together key college administration functions into one place.
Dean Averies, Oxford Director at Beard, said: St Hilda’s has been a fantastic project for Beard to work on, especially as it marks a special anniversary for the College.
“We understood the constraints of the college from the start, so the two-stage procurement route gave us time to work through issues before we got to the site.
“There were some challenges along the way as we had identified a number of significant gaps in the design information, which we had to fill to enable the project to progress.
“Of course, we subsequently had the ongoing restrictions due to coronavirus, which we were able to absorb and workaround. However, we were able to hand over on schedule and delivered on the original vision to create an inspiring place to live, work and study, for the next 125 years.”
He added, “the company was successful in our bid for the work due to our track record in the education sector and especially with the University of Oxford”.
Neil Hyatt, Head of Buildings, St Hilda’s College, said: “Beard has worked tirelessly with the novated design team and subcontractors, to ensure that the best possible outcome was achieved for St Hilda’s College.
“Despite the challenges due to coronavirus, as promised, our study rooms were ready on time for the start of the academic year.
“This was a collaborative project and the successful outcome was driven by contracts manager Steve Lambourne and his team. Everyone is stunned by the architecture, the quality of finish and above all Beard’s commitment, to meeting client expectations.”
The specifics of the work include:
- A new main entrance to the college
- New accommodation for students
- New Boundary Building to house the Middle Common Room, Chapel and Porter’s Lodge
- New high-quality teaching and office space
- New riverside pavilion for entertaining
- Crowning of the tower using aluminium gold leaves mounted around a steel frame, painted by hand with bespoke St Hilda’s Gold.
The new accommodation is a key element in the redevelopment as it relieves both the financial pressure for students of finding accommodation in the private rental market and also eases some demand for accommodation in the city.