Not far from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, 27 Palace Court has been called home by thousands of BYU students eager for a life-changing experience across the pond. After a year of being closed for renovations beginning in 2013, the London Centre again welcomed a new group of enthusiastic students in spring 2014—this time with an extensive interior makeover.
The London Centre has been renovated four times since it was purchased in 1977. When the centre closed for its most recent remodel, more than 3,000 students had participated in the London-based programs since the previous—and third—renovation in 1992, and the wear and tear was beginning to show. In addition, modernization of mechanical and electrical systems was deemed necessary for the continued operation of the building.
Jeff Ringer, Kennedy Center director, and Lynn Elliott, International Study Programs director, were key in securing the architect and building firm, performing inspections, arranging financing, and so forth. However, the renovation, completed in spring 2014, was largely made possible by then-President Cecil O. Samuelson’s generous support.
“We’re looking to give new perspectives, new outlooks, and new worldviews to our students. [Studying abroad] forces you to reveal why you do things the way you do and hopefully makes people more tolerant and less judgmental.”
—Lynn Elliott, Kennedy Center associate director
“I’ve always been a humanities person, so seeing the museums, the paintings, the landscapes, and the documents I had read about made it real. It’s the sense of actually being there and seeing things that you’re learning about. It’s going to class and studying British history in the morning and then seeing the Magna Carta or attending Parliament in the afternoon.”
—Kip Clark, London Study Abroad student, 1983
“No student can spend a semester or term at BYU’s London Centre and return home without having undergone a significant change in perspective of one’s place in this world.”
—Thomas Durham, London Study Abroad director, winter 2015, and professor of composition and theory
“For forty years the BYU London Centre has been important to BYU students who are learning about not only their British heritage but also Europe as a whole and how their personal world is connected to the broader world. But the centre has not only been important to those students; it has also been BYU’s vehicle for making connections and associations with universities in Britain, such as the London School of Economics, the Imperial College, and Oxford—as well as continental universities, such as Radboud University Nijmegen and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. It isn’t too much to say that the BYU London Centre is BYU’s face in Europe.”
—James Faulconer, BYU London Centre academic director and professor of philosophy
“There is nothing like studying a work of art or architecture and then going out and seeing the original—it’s a life-changing experience every day. Minds are expanded, breaths quickened, worlds created, gaps minded. Could life be any more enthralling than living it in one of the great cities of the world?”
—Allen Christenson, London Study Abroad director, winter 2013, and professor of humanities and art history
The London international study programs are flagship opportunities that play an important role for students who are going abroad for the first time or who are seeking a unique global experience. Through all the renovations and faculty directors, the London Centre’s goal has remained constant: to offer to BYU students a deeper and broader experience than what they would have received if they had stayed in Provo. Over the last year the London Centre has once again been filled with students who are eager to learn, and the program is set for success for years to come.