(9 June 2016) The four-year project to transform the library was one of 100 building projects from around the world to be considered for this highly-prized title. The announcement was made at a special ceremony in London last night where the library, which is part of the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, was in the final shortlist along with five other buildings.
The judges praised the Bodleian Libraries and architects Wilkinson Eyre for the careful and considered way the former 1930s book storage facility has been transformed into the new home for the Bodleian’s special collections.
New facilities include study rooms, reading rooms, a Visiting Scholars Centre and a Centre for Digital Scholarship. Above and below ground, more than 40km of state-of-the-art storage facilities now house the special collections, including four of the 18 surviving copies of Magna Carta, ancient papyrus and the oldest known book written wholly in the English language. The library also includes two exhibition spaces, a lecture theatre, café and shop.
This world-class facility has been fully open for over a year and has already received over 900,000 visitors. It was formally opened by HRH the Duke of Cambridge last month.
Comments from the Judges of AJ 2016 Building of the Year include:
Hannah Lawson, director, John McAslan + Partners
‘This building has received an immense amount of thought and care from WilkinsonEyre. It captures the qualities of warmth and intimacy, and also of scale and grandeur, creating an amazing level of public engagement. It celebrates the darker reading rooms while adding light to other areas. It is really nice to experience a building like that.’
Alan Dunlop, Alan Dunlop Architect
‘This project has a level of complexity that you wouldn’t expect. It is a mix of small and big spaces, each with different qualities. WilkinsonEyre has successfully integrated the existing building fabric into a modern library. I would want to spend time there. It is a place where you can enjoy the experience of reading a book.’
The Weston Library also recently was awarded the RIBA South Building of the Year 2016 from the Royal Institute of British Architects and is now entered for the RIBA National Awards, which will be announced on 23 June, 2016. The building also won an Oxford Preservation Trust Award in 2015 was shortlisted for the Building Magazine Project of the Year (2015).
The illustrated announcement is here.