The RAI Building

RAI building

The Institute is housed in an award-winning modern building, designed by the international architects Kohn, Pedersen, Fox. It is constructed from the traditional Oxford materials of Bath stone, with American oak and zinc - a fittingly trans-Atlantic building for a project designed to strengthen old ties and create new ones.

Large windows admit daylight into the offices of the professors, visiting scholars and post-doctoral fellows of American history, politics and literature, and the seminar rooms on the lower floors. The Vere Harmsworth Library occupies the upper floors, where there is study space for nearly one hundred researchers.

Environmental impact

The RAI is committed to minimising its impact on the environment though energy conservation and efficiency. The Institute was built with environmental systems in place to lessen energy use: the building is naturally ventilated and designed to maximise air-flow within the library and its offices, and does not require air-conditioning.

In 2015, the RAI achieved an Energy Performance Rating of 54, showing its energy use to be significantly lower than would be typical for a building of its size – the typical rating would be 100. This also represented a fall since 2010 when the rating was 71. Emissions of carbon dioxide from the building’s energy consumption have also fallen considerably in recent years, from 131 tonnes in 2010 to 103 tonnes in 2015.

A two year project is currently underway to replace all the lighting throughout the building with energy efficient and responsive LEDs, while solar panels were installed on the roof in December 2015.


The Institute is fully accessible for those requiring level access, with a ramp to the entrance and lift access to all floors. There is limited parking but a space can normally be reserved on request for visitors needing to park close by.

Full accessibility information may be found on the University Access Guide, and visitors with particular access requirements are encouraged to contact us.