Iconic University library building reaches new heights

The new library of the University of Aberdeen reached a special milestone yesterday (Wednesday October 6) when construction reached the top of the building and a special “topping out” ceremony was held to mark the occasion.

The event, a traditional ceremony for the construction industry, was held on the roof of the new conservation studio adjacent to the main building.

The milestone was marked with speeches by Aird Buist, Director of Pihl UK Ltd (Main Contractor), Professor Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, and Stephen Willacy of Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen.

Construction began in August 2009, and the new building is already displaying stunning visual features including an unusual and attractive glass facade.

Due to open for the University and wider community in September 2011, the £57 million building will bring an enhanced learning environment and cultural facility, fitting for the 21st century, matching the University’s academic aspirations.

Conceived by Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen as a cube evoking the ice and light of the north, the new library has a sharp, modern design, and a striking interior of sweeping contours around an asymmetrical atrium which rises diagonally from the public ground floor through the floors above.

Flexible areas on the upper floors will provide an ideal modern learning environment in which new media and the latest technology will enhance the University’s magnificent collection of books, manuscripts and archives.

The library will be equipped with 13 kilometres of book shelves, 1,200 work stations, modern IT systems, exhibition rooms, educational facilities and an area dedicated to the University’s distinguished collections of rare historic manuscripts, books, and archives.

For the first time, these treasures will be widely accessible for research and learning, and showcased to the public through a programme of exhibitions, educational and cultural events.

Aird Buist, Director of Pihl UK Ltd said of the milestone: “This signifies the first major milestone when this project changes from a civil engineering project to that of a building project and all is on programme to finish the iconic building for the University of Aberdeen on time.” 

Professor Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, who performed the topping-out, said: “We are delighted to have reached this milestone. In a year’s time the spot on which we are gathering today will be a fully operational, environmentally sustainable working building, designed to provide the most modern learning environment for our students and staff, new educational and cultural opportunities for our local communities, a striking landmark for the Aberdeen skyline, and a resource for researchers across the world.”