Rothermere American Institute

University of Oxford

Hailed as one of the most beautiful modern buildings in Oxford, the Rothermere American Institute is a contemporary symbol of American culture and learning within of the United Kingdom’s most historic cities and campuses.

Dedicated by former President Bill Clinton, the Institute stands in a leafy quarter north of the city center, close to Rhodes House and the 19th century complex of Mansfield College. The Institute was created as a center for American history, politics and government.

The basic parti is similar to that of Basil Champney’s library at the adjacent Mansfield College. Classrooms and ancillary spaces are arranged below a great reading room, which opens onto a shared garden precinct. The new building is sunk 11 feet below grade to maintain the eave line of Mansfield College. The lowest level contains seminar rooms and opens out to a sunken terrace.

The siting of the building allows all four levels to take advantage of natural daylight, especially the 23-foot-high reading room. The reading room faces south overlooking the garden-galleries, and contains study carrels looking down into the main space.

The vocabulary is that of exposed concrete and natural Bath stone cladding, used to frame finely detailed steel and glass. Fritted glass louvers control solar gain and reduce the need for mechanical ventilation. Air conditioning is eschewed in favor of nighttime cooling.


Oxford, UK


Oxford University




2,500 m2 / 26,900 ft2


Civic Trust Award (2003),Technical Excellence in Architectural Technology Award (British Institute of Architectural Technologists 2003), Excellence in Architecture Awards (SCUP/AIA 2005), World Architecture Award Finalist – Green Category -Finalist- (World Architecture Magazine 2002), RIBA Award (Royal Institute of British Architects 2003), Preservation Trust Award (Oxford Preservation Trust 2002)

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Project Type:Education
Project Location:Europe