Construction firm Beard has been appointed as preferred bidder on an ambitious project to extend and restructure the basement of Rhodes House in central Oxford, home to the prestigious Rhodes Trust.
The £20 million scheme will see three new basements created to allow for additional accommodation, increased office space, and a brand-new conference centre to host distinguished speakers and delegates from around the world as soon as this becomes possible. A central staircase will be installed inside the existing marble-clad rotunda. The staircase will provide fittingly impressive access from ground level to the foyer of the new conference centre. An all-new glass structure will also be constructed at ground level above the new office space and carbon-fibre reinforcement added to provide support to the existing structure. With the bulk of the project involving works below ground level, it is anticipated that most of the Trust’s operations will continue as normal during construction, while encompassing responsible social distancing measures to keep safe Beard staff and subcontractors and help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Subject to planning consents it is hoped that the main construction will begin at the end of July 2020. The project is expected to take approximately 24 months to complete, enabling the new facilities to open in Autumn 2022. Dean Averies, director for Beard Oxford, commented: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime project. The Rhodes Trust is a world-renowned institution, and Rhodes House is a very special building in its own right. “Our longstanding association with the University of Oxford means Beard is ideally placed to deliver facilities that will enhance the Trust’s work while respecting the history of the building and the Trust. “We put health and safety at the heart of everything we do, so during this Covid-19 period, we will continue to operate to the highest possible standards, ensuring the site is run in line with best practice and government guidance on how to keep all who work there safe and well.”