The striking new building will be formally opened by HM The Queen on Monday 24 September during her visit to Aberdeen, where she will also see Aberdeen City Council’s new headquarters at Marischal College.
Sir Duncan Rice was Scotland’s longest-serving University Principal when he demitted office in spring 2010 after 14 years at the helm of the University of Aberdeen. During this time the University achieved a transformation in its intellectual strength, research income, and competitive ranking in international league tables. Sir Duncan was honoured with a Knighthood in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to higher education.
Sir Duncan said: “The decision to build a great library at Aberdeen was a complex one. A library like this is a repository for the book and manuscript treasures the University has collected over five centuries. It's also a complex storehouse for information of all sorts, in printed and electronic form. But it goes beyond that, to be the hub of the university community - as public space, intellectual space, and even social space. Finally, it turns the buildings on the landward side of the High Street into a real campus which echoes the spaces round the Chapel and New Kings.
“For the University's future, building the library, especially at this level of architectural distinction, has a wider implication. Having a great research library is one of the characteristics of the handful of outstanding universities among the tens of thousands of academic institutions across the globe. Our library is a statement that we at Aberdeen want to be among those leaders, at the very apex of our profession. The University, when it committed to the library, committed to becoming the kind of place whose name is familiar to every educated man and woman in the world.
“Though I wish I were a great enough brain or a wealthy enough donor to justify it, I'm touched that the library will be named after me. I'm grateful to the friends in the community who wanted that to happen, and I'm proud to have my name linked with one of the great architectural practices in the world. I also want to thank the graduates and friends of the university who showed faith in the University's aspirations by giving as much as they could to support the cost of such an ambitious building. Of course the ultimate honour for all of us is that Her Majesty The Queen has so graciously agreed to open the library.”
Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “We are hugely proud and honoured to welcome Her Majesty The Queen to the University of Aberdeen for the formal opening of the Sir Duncan Rice Library. There is a very special resonance for the University community in this Diamond Jubilee year, being ten years since Her Majesty’s last visit in her Golden Jubilee year of 2002, which coincided with our hosting of the Scottish Parliament on the King’s College Conference Centre. This is sure to be another very happy, significant and memorable occasion.”
Professor Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said “I know that the whole University community will join me in expressing delight that we will no longer be referring to this magnificent building as simply ‘the new library’ – but will be honouring it with a name that pays tribute to my predecessor Sir Duncan Rice and his long dedication and service to this University and the North-east.”
The £57million library project is the largest capital fundraising project yet undertaken by the University, receiving generous support from alumni and private donors around the world, from companies in many sectors of business, and from charitable trusts local and national.
Conceived by award-winning Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen as a cube evoking the ice and light of the north, the building has a sharp, modern design, and a striking interior of sweeping contours around an asymmetrical atrium which rises diagonally from the ground floor through seven floors above, giving spectacular views of the Granite City and the North Sea.
Construction by main contractor Pihl UK began in September 2009 and was completed in summer 2011.
The library provides an advanced learning environment in which the latest learning technology adds value to a magnificent collection of over one million books. In addition, adaptable spaces provide flexibility for individual study, group-working, seminars and meetings.
It is also home to distinguished collections of rare historic manuscripts, books and archives, in the environmentally-controlled conditions of the lower floors. For the first time, these treasures are now widely accessible for research and learning, accompanied by a programme of exhibitions, educational and cultural events.
The new library has also been designed with the environment in mind. Rated as Excellent in the world’s leading ratings system BREEAM, the new building maximises energy efficiency and provides the highest standards in sustainability, disabled access, acoustics, material choices, safety and security.
Notes to Editors
Sir Duncan Rice was Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen from September 1996 until March 2010.
Sir Duncan was born in Aberdeen, and took a first in history at the University of Aberdeen in 1964. He taught briefly at Aberdeen and completed an Edinburgh doctorate before spending much of his professional life at Yale and New York University.
He was previously Dean of the Faculty (1985-91) and Vice-Chancellor (1991-96) at New York University, playing an important role in one of the most successful US higher education fundraising campaigns, which raised over $1 billion in 10 years.
He is the recipient of many academic awards and honours, including Honorary Degrees from New York University and Robert Gordon University, an Honorary Fellowship from the UHI Millennium Institute, and fellowships at Harvard and Yale, as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He serves on the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for Scotland, is Vice-President of Scottish Opera and is Chair of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (Europe). He has previously served on the Boards of Scottish Enterprise Grampian, Scottish Opera/Ballet, BT Scotland, and The National Trust for Scotland.
Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.
Issued on: 21 September 2012
Contact: Shaunagh Kirby