Members of the HEDQF share the general sadness at the untimely death of Zaha Hadid, one of the world’s most distinguished and distinctive architects who had made recent notable contributions to higher education design. She was recently awarded the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture.
As recently as 17 March 2016, members of the Forum visited Oxford and saw at first hand the remarkable new Investcorp Building for St Antony’s College. This houses part of the Middle East Centre, founded in 1957 and now one of the leading centres for teaching, research and publication on the region.
On a tight site in North Oxford, the new building, completed in 2015 provides a 117-seat lecture theatre and more space for the expanding library and archive. The form of the building both inside and out and its typically challenging use of materials provides an extraordinary contrast with the adjacent Victorian brick villas. As Rowan Moore pointed out in the Observer (3 April 2016) in his appreciation of Zaha Hadid, ‘For her, in her person and her work, one feeling that Hadid rarely elicited was indifference’. The Investcorp building is likely, despite the competition, to become one of Oxford’s most remarkable recent buildings. It will also stand as a tribute to universities prepared to sponsor innovative and highly original designs.