Iconic new University library opens its doors

An iconic new building for Aberdeen opens its doors to the public for the first time today, Monday 12 September.

The new University of Aberdeen library is designed to provide a 21st century learning and research environment for students, University staff, visitors and the public.

Conceived by Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen as a cube evoking the ice and light of the north, the new library 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 this summer, following which library staff have undertaken a massive operation to move the University’s book collection from the Queen Mother Library into the adjacent new building.

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.

The £57million 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.

Professor Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “The opening of the new library marks a new era at the University, providing an unrivalled learning environment for our students and staff, and one we are delighted to share with the communities of our region.

 “This is an outstanding facility of which we can all be very proud. It will serve the needs and ambitions of our University, City and region for many decades to come.” 

Founding Partner of architects schmidt hammer lassen, Morten Schmidt, said: “The University of Aberdeen’s new library will be a meeting place and a cultural centre for the students of the University and the Aberdeen community.

“The façade of the building will shimmer during the day and glow softly at night, creating a luminous landmark - a beacon - for the whole city of Aberdeen.”

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 will maximise energy efficiency and provide the highest standards in sustainability, disabled access, acoustics, material choices, safety and security.

The next phase in the project will be the move, beginning in October, of the University’s distinguished collections of rare historic manuscripts, books and archives, into the environmentally-controlled conditions of the lower floors in the new library. For the first time, these treasures will be widely accessible for research and learning, and a programme of exhibitions, educational and cultural events will begin next year.

Chris Banks, University Librarian and Director of Library, Special Collections and Museums said: “Our new library has created a stunning environment which accommodates new styles of learning, enables research and collaborations, and allows us to engage with all of our communities through exhibitions, public events, seminars, school groups, professional visits and much more. I am enormously proud of all those colleagues across the whole University who have worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition.”