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‘Flagship library project to match academic ambitions’ leads next phase of University’s infrastructure investment

The University of Aberdeen has announced its commitment to a new flagship library to be built on campus to consolidate the University’s position as a leader among world universities. The University Court agreed last week to proceed with plans for a £55.5M ($96.4M) facility.

The ‘Library for our Sixth Century’ will spearhead the next phase of the University’s 10-year investment in its £228M capital development programme, which is integral to the academic ambition of the institution.

The library project will provide facilities for our 13,500 student community, far in excess of the 5,000 students the original Queen Mother Library was built to accommodate. It will also house our historic collections, comprising more than a quarter of a million ancient and priceless books and manuscripts, collected over five centuries from the foundations of the University in 1495.

Professor C Duncan Rice, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said of the decision: “There has never been a more intellectually exciting time to be part of this University. Over recent years, we have attracted more than 50 internationally distinguished, senior academics and many more junior ones of equal potential. We are entering our sixth century of achievement as a leader in international learning, innovation and discovery.

“As we look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, the library project is part of a vision to match the quality of our people and the richness of our history and heritage with an outstanding intellectual and cultural facility, the benefits of which will stretch far beyond our University community.

“Our past is the springboard to our future, and the continuing tradition of philanthropic support which has made us what we are today will, I believe, make a significant contribution to creating the facilities that the communities of this institution, the North-east, and indeed Scotland, deserves.”

The new library will be located adjacent to the existing Queen Mother Library on the King’s campus. The QML will be demolished on completion of the new facility and the new library is expected to be open by 2010. Securing investment from funding bodies and individual donors worldwide will be an integral part of taking the development forward.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen, who are prominent Danish architects, have been selected as the design partner for the project on the strength of their approach and vision backed by an impressive portfolio of outstanding public buildings, including the Royal Danish Library. The Danish team were selected after the University staged a competition which challenged architects across the world to create a library design for the city and the University of Aberdeen. The contest attracted interest from almost 100 expressions of interest, 40 full submissions and a shortlist of six.

Professor Christopher Gane, Vice-Principal, Library and Information Services, who is leading the University project team, believes the benefits of this major project will extend well beyond the University campus. He explained: “We are delighted to welcome the Danish design team as our partners in this ambitious and exciting project. Their approach is an excellent match for our own aspirations to provide the very best library facilities for students, staff, and researchers, reflecting modern study requirements and adding the value of new technology and electronic resources to our magnificent collection of books.

“The new library, at last, will also enable us to preserve and vigorously to promote our outstanding heritage of unique historic collections of international significance, including the private library of our founder Bishop Elphinstone, and to acquire further national treasures, which we know will attract interest from around the world.”

Morten Schmidt, Principal Project Partner with Aarhus-based Schmidt Hammer Lassen, expressed the enthusiasm of his team for the project and said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been appointed to undertake this prestigious project for the University of Aberdeen. It is a great honour to win such an international architectural competition. We are aware of the library’s importance, not just for the University itself but also for the local community and the Scottish nation.

“We have designed a number of libraries in Scandinavia and feel that the chemistry between the Scots and the Danes is excellent. We are looking forward to developing the project to house the University’s priceless collections, working with all the different user groups and the local community, and helping to attract funding towards a library worthy of this historic setting in Aberdeen.”

A final design of the new library building is expected in early autumn this year.

ENDS


Notes to Editors:

In its historic collections, the University of Aberdeen safeguards over a quarter of a million ancient books and manuscripts, collected over five centuries from the foundations of the University in 1495. The exceptionally rich collection of Hebrew literature featured in media coverage last week at a joint event with the Aberdeen Hebrew Congregation to celebrate the Festival of Purim, with a scroll of the text of the Book of Esther as centrepiece for the event.

Other projects in the next phase of the University’s £228 million 10-year programme of investment in its infrastructure include:

· The £16 million Matthew Hay project, a partnership with NHS Grampian to create an outstanding purpose-built facility on the Foresterhill health campus for medical education and the ongoing development of 21st century skills for all members of the healthcare team. A total of £12 million has been committed by the two partner organisations, with an energetic fundraising appeal to raise a further £4 million being led by Professor Sir Graeme Catto. Edinburgh architects Bennetts Associates are now working on a design for the building, which is due to open in September 2008.

· The £23 million Aberdeen Regional Sports Facility, a sporting centre on the site of the Chris Anderson Stadium at Linksfield which will be a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council, and sportscotland, and which received outline planning approval last week. The University and City Council are each contributing £8 million towards the first phase of this ambitious project, and are working with sportscotland to secure an additional £7million.
This new community sports development, aimed at nurturing local talent as well as building a fitter community, will provide a full-size indoor football pitch as well as facilities for athletics and hockey. In addition, there will be a multi-sport games hall, squash courts, and fitness suites.


For media interviews on the University’s new flagship library with Professor Christopher Gane, Vice-Principal, Library and Information Services, please contact Angela Ferguson on: (01224) 272960 to arrange.

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Wednesday 29th of March 2006

Ref: 1923library
Contact: Angela Ferguson

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