In February 2016, forty supporters joined the Foundation Office in the beautiful wood-panelled Council Room of the Royal College of Nursing, in Cavendish Square, London. Headmistress, Emma McKendrick spoke of the School’s vision for the ‘Centre for Learning’ project and formally launched the fundraising appeal to raise £6.5million.
The Centre for Learning, eventually named the Murray Centre, would house inspiring key spaces for learning and day-to-day activities: a state-of-the-art library, multi-purpose auditorium, seminar spaces, a cafe, the school shop and more. In other words, the Murray Centre would become the heart of campus.
Following the launch of the ‘Centre for Learning Appeal’, the School was overwhelmed by the tremendous support from every corner of the Downe House community. The School Governors agreed to support the project with a gift of £2 million, a private phase of fundraising raised just over £2.7 million from current and past parents, governors and alumnae, and a further £1.8 million was donated in the final phase of the fundraising campaign. The campaign offered supporters the opportunity to name or sponsor specific rooms and spaces, to fund learning and technology packs in the Library, to provide AV equipment, to sponsor a seat in the Auditorium or a stepping stone outside, to name but a few of the sponsorship opportunities.
The construction team moved in at the beginning of April 2017 and the whole School watched the building grow over the next year to take its place at the heart of the School campus. Opened for business in November 2018, the Murray Centre was the most significant new building project that Downe House has undertaken in its history and its whole rationale is based on the aim that it will touch and transform every girl’s education. The aim of this fantastic state-of-the-art building is to facilitate the enhancement and enrichment of learning for all. That might be a lecture, rehearsal or performance in the 250-seat Auditorium, individual learning in the well-resourced Library, socialising in the café or taking part in a collaborative learning experience in the communal areas.
Right from the start, girls and staff embraced the new space with excitement and enthusiasm, whether they were working in the Library, attending a lecture or playing chess in the social spaces.
“It is so nice to have a multi-purpose space where everyone is welcome, you can sit down and work or even play games and meet up with friends.”
Hope, Remove, (2018)
“As one of the most fundamental elements of the 10 Year Vision, the Centre for Learning was conceived to provide current and future generations of Downe House pupils and staff with an inspirational and innovative place to learn and enjoy boarding school life through enrichment, study and social opportunities.”
Mrs Michelle Scott, Assistant Headmistress (Foundation)
“The Murray Centre is an amazing place and has helped me with my work. I love doing my prep in there with a hot drink and it has brought Downe House alive.”
Iona, Remove (DH 2018)
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