Main Library, University of Edinburgh



Main Library, University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh's main library building, designed by Sir Basil Spence Glover & Ferguson, was completed in 1967 and was designed to accommodate two million books, 2,500 users and 100 staff in circa 30087sq/m over seven floors. It is considered to be one of the finest pieces of modernist architecture in the country and is Grade A Listed. Over the years there had been some reorganisation of accommodation, but generally the building was in its original condition and showing signs of its age.

We were required to remodel the building to reflect current and future needs at the same time ensuring that, while building works were being undertaken, the library could remain in use throughout and careful consideration had to be given to security of the stock. The requirement to remain operational throughout led to the project being phased over seven years.

The extensive works included repairs to the fabric of the building, renovation of finishes and the complete renewal of all building services. A new Special Collections, Archive and Research Centre area was formed on the top two floors and later phases included the remodelling of the entrance area, formation of a 220-seat cafe with internet facilities and the insertion of a mezzanine gallery and exhibition space. A degree of flexibility was designed into the floor layouts and services installations to allow for possible internal reconfigurations to suit future changes in use patterns.

A large part of the success of this project was due to the successful integration of modernised services into the 1960s reinforced concrete framed structure.