University library shortlisted for major architectural award

The new library for the University of Aberdeen is one of 25 projects to make it to the finals of The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) 2013 Awards.

At a total project cost of £57million the striking Sir Duncan Rice Library provides an advanced learning environment in which the latest learning technology adds value to a magnificent collection of over one million books, archives and manuscripts. In addition, adaptable spaces provide flexibility for individual study, group working, seminars, meetings and public events.

The ambitious project is the largest capital fundraising project yet undertaken by the University, and continues to receive generous support from alumni and private donors around the world, from companies in many sectors of business, and from charitable trusts both local and national.

Conceived as a cube evoking the ice and light of the north, the library 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.

Morten Schmidt, Founding Partner of Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen who submitted the entry, said: “The University was committed to creating a magnificent academic library, which would at the same time be open to the local community of Aberdeen.  All through the process the University made visionary decisions and supported the design of the building. This has had a positive impact on the final result we achieved.”

Chris Banks, University Librarian and Director of Library, Special Collections and Museums said : “The building has been a magnet for researchers, students and the public since we first opened the doors late in 2011. It has enabled us to showcase some of the University’s finest treasures and to attract visitors from around the world to see the state of the art facility and the unique collections it now holds. It has inspired art and creativity and, above all, it is a wonderfully inspiring building in which to work.”

Rated as Excellent in the world’s leading ratings system BREEAM, the new building maximises energy efficiency and - in line with University policy for all new buildings - it provides the highest standards in sustainability, disabled access, material choices, safety and security

Angus Donaldson, Director of Estates at the University added: “We are delighted to be on this prestigious shortlist. The library is part of the University masterplan to provide an estate of teaching excellence and which champions sustainability through good design and construction. The library contains state of the art environmental systems to reduce waste and help make the building highly sustainable.”