The new Cohen Building

Kingswood's new academic block, the Cohen Building was officially opened during Parents' Week in October 2013.  The ceremony, which was held in the stunning new library, was a celebratory occassion which started with Kingswood pupils acting as tour guides for parents and guests who wanted a guided tour of the building.  The guests were entertained by the Kingswood College Jazz Band before the start of the more formal side of the ceremony.  The event was planned to take place outdoors, but was moved into the library at the last minute as the weather became windy, and the sky looked ominously grey!  So the speeches all took place indoors, and the guests then moved downstairs for the unveiling of the foundation stone by Mr Tom Ansley, an Old Kingswoodian (1960) and former Chairman of the Kingswood Centenary Trust from 2003-2011. (The weather played ball for this part of the ceremony!) Having presided over the Trust during the years in which it was able to assist Kingswood with the development of many of the new facilities - Kirkby House, the Astroturf and water polo pool, the High Performance Centre - Mr Ansley was a fitting choice to be the special guest at this opening ceremony as Kingswood showcased its latest new building.  After the unveiling of the foundation stone, and a blessing of the building by the Chaplain, Rev Dix Sibeko, guests enjoyed champagne and snacks in the Cohen Lecture Theatre, where guests could view a slide show of the deveopment of the building from the demolition of the old gym to the state-of-the-art acadmic facility it is today.

Built on the site of the original Jackie Cohen Gym, the Cohen Building now stands proudly in the centre of the Kingswood campus. Three years of planning went into the design of the building. Architecturally, it was designed to blend in with the existing buildings with the use of red and yellow bricks as with other new buildings at Kingswood. It is a 'high-tech' building, with all the venues linked to the school intranet and internet with Wi-Fi available throughout. On the ground floor we have the new Engineering Graphics and Design classroom, all the Commerce classrooms and the new Art Classroom. It also has an office space and a secure store room for exam purposes. On the first floor we have the English Department as well as French and isiXhosa. There is also a meeting room for general use and for small class teaching.

The top floor houses the new library and a lecture theatre where we can seat up to 120 people. It has a full audiovisual system as well as an interactive white board. The mezzanine floor in the new library can be used as a project room, classroom or meeting room. The space between the new Cohen Building and the Parsonson Building forms a quad where you will find an amphitheatre linked to the new Drama Rehearsal Room.

The Cohen Building is now the centre of academic activity at Kingswood. It was officially opened by Mr H P (Tom) Ansley (OK 1960), Chairman of the Kingswood College Centenary Trust from 2003-2011, on 16 October 2013.

The history behind the building being called the Cohen Building is as follows :

In 1974, Kingswood College acquired a property at 18 Park Road, which had earlier been owned by the Hon Mr Justice Percy Gane (brother of the first Kingswood Head, Colonel E G Gane). The acquisition of the property was made possible through the generosity of Old Kingswoodian Jackie Cohen (OK 1938) of Windhoek and it was named the Stephen Meyer Cohen House in memory of his young son, tragically lost in an air crash in the then South West Africa, now Namibia, in November 1968. Stephen (pictured left) was booked to enter Kingswood as a pupil in January 1969.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cohen House, as it was generally known, first housed senior girl boarders as of 1975 and subsequently became the junior boys’ boarding house when the senior girls moved into Jacques House in 1976. It continued to be home to junior boy boarders until December 1999 when a decline in boarder enrolment in the junior school at the time, together with security and other considerations, led to the building being closed as a boarding house. The junior boys relocated
first to Hobson House within the College campus in January 2000, and in 2007, they were permanently relocated to the Van Vuuren Village in Park Road - a complex of four houses, each of which accommodates between twelve and seventeen boys in a wonderful homely setting. As there was no further identified need for Cohen House as part of the College’s boarding establishment, nor for any academic usage, the College Council’s executive committee reluctantly resolved in October 2000 to sell the property.  However, a special commemorative plaque remains in the Van Vuuren Village and the young boy boarders who live there are taught about the history of the move from Cohen House, perpetuating the memory of Stephen Meyer Cohen.  Below - a painting of Stephen Meyer Cohen House.  It is now owned by Old Kingswoodian, Dean Kent, and operates as a successful bed and breakfast.

In 1978, it was announced that Mr Jackie Cohen (pictured right) had again given the school a precious gift - the funds to build a new gym. Construction began in June 1978 under the management of Mr Eben van Vuuren - who brought the Jackie Cohen Gym into being, with enough left in the budget to furnish the facility with gym equipment. The building, which consisted of a large gym hall, as well as changing rooms and a facility that became known as the 'weights room', was used over the years as a gym, exam hall, exhibition venue, basketball court, and for many other functions. It was a central part of the Kingswood campus. However, in 2012, when it was decided to build the new High Performance indoor sports centre on the site of the former Captain C O Rich Rifle Range, the site of the Jackie Cohen Gym was identified for a building designed for academic purposes. With a growth in pupil numbers and the development of the use of technology in the classroom, Kingswood needed additional classrooms, a modern new library and a lecture theatre. Designing a building to cater for the latest in education technology would mean that Kingswood could have one of the most up-to-date academic facilities of any independent school in the country. It was decided to locate this building on the site of the Jackie Cohen Gym, in the centre of the campus, alongside the Parsonson Building. And so, we sadly saw the Jackie Cohen Gym coming down in 2012, and making way for this magnificent new academic block. It was decided to retain the Cohen legacy to Kingswood, and the new building was named the Cohen Building. In this way Kingswood is able to commemorate in the building both the part played by the Stephen Meyer Cohen House as a boarding house, and the Jackie Cohen Gym as a sports facility. Both these buildings may have been replaced by new facilities, but the generosity of Mr Jackie Cohen and the memory of his young son will live on in this new building as Kingswood pupils will move through the classrooms for generations to come.

Three framed panels have been created and mounted in the building that tell this story of the naming of the Cohen Building.

Here is a gallery of photographs of the opening ceremony and some of the interior of the Cohen Building.

 

 

Click on the thumbnails below to view slideshow
The Kingswood Jazz Band entertained the guests before the ceremony
The ceremony was moved into the library due to windy weather.  Here the guests assemble prior to the ceremony
The Kingswood pupils gather on Cops Lawn
The Kingswood team of pupils who acted as tour guides for parents and guests who wanted to see the building
Chairman of Council, Mrs Di Hornby, Rev Dix Sibeko, Mrs Loy Ansley, Mr Tom Ansley and College Head Mr Jon Trafford seated and ready for the opening ceremony
Mr Tom Ansley addresses the audience at the opening ceremony
Mr Tom Ansley
Mrs Di Hornby does all the thank you's
Waiting for the guests to move outside for the unveiling of the foundation stone
Mr Ansley and Mr Trafford before the unveiling
Kingswood Chapel Stewards ready to assist the Chaplain with the blessing of the Cohen Building
Mr Ansley does the unveiling
The foundation stone
Rev Sibeko blesses the building
Mr and Mrs Ansley with the foundation stone
Mrs Di Hornby and her father, Mr Buster Brotherton (who was Chairman of the Estates and Buildings committee during  the construction of the Cohen Building) and Mr Trafford and Mr Ansley
Kingswood Business Manager who oversaw the construction project with project manager Bevin Hare, Mr Trafford and Mr Brotherton
The three commemmorative panels that will be displayed in the Cohen Building telling the story of the naming of the facility
A view of the Cohen Building from the Parsonson Building showing the outdoor amphitheatre and the new rehearsal room behind it
Kingswood girls in a scrapbooking workshop in one of the bright new classrooms
A view of the building from across Cops Lawn
A matric maths workshop in the new Engineering Graphics and Design classroom
The quad between the Cohen Building and the Parsonsons Building
A view of the Cohen Building with the San in the background
A very old photograph showing the site of the original Jackie Cohen Gym before construction began in 1978.  The San can be seen in the background and part of the building which now joins the Cohen Building and the Parsonsons Building
The matric maths workshop in the new Cohen Lecture Theatre
Click on the thumbnails above to view slideshow

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