Our brief from the University was to provide high quality modern research and teaching facilities combined with flexible social space and administrative offices for the whole Classics Faculty. The Faculty already occupied some of the historic buildings on the site, which is in an excellent position at 65-67 St Giles in central Oxford, adjacent to the Ashmolean Museum and close to the Classics books collections within the Sackler Library.
The site for the new faculty building consisted of three principal buildings, with a jumble of ancillary buildings behind, many of which were derelict. All were Grade 2 listed. The principal rooms at the fronts had been previously converted to work together by driving a spine corridor from one to another, but the accommodation was severely compromised by the lack of a proper entrance, poor services infrastructure, absence of social facilities, lack of accessible facilities and inadequate circulation and escape.
The project to rebuild the Ashmolean Museum was a determining factor as the only available site access for both projects was the narrow lane between them, and this was to be filled by the Ashmolean proposals. A significant driver for the project was therefore to maximise the development of the site within the available window of opportunity.