Library booked in as King's Buildings' crowning glory

A STRIKING new library building was today unveiled as the centrepiece of a multi-million pound transformation of Edinburgh University's King's Buildings campus.

The building, which the university hopes to have completed by 2012, will bring together the different departmental libraries under one roof.

It will be the focal point of the transformation of the site – which will take more than 20 years. Existing buildings on the 49-acre site on the corner of Mayfield Road and West Mains Road will be demolished, to make way for 18 new research and teaching facilities.

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Cliff Barraclough, the estate development manager for King's Buildings, said: "We want these buildings to be among the best in the country, and we have employed award-winning architects to design them, as we need to ensure we have facilities which will continue to attract the best students and researchers.

"The library was always designed to be the focal point of the new campus, and we are hoping it will encourage students to maybe stay on campus a little longer, so it always feels lively.

"Currently most students head off after 4pm, so the place can seem very quiet."

The new library building was designed by award-winning architects Austin-Smith:Lord, who designed the People's History Museum in Manchester, and masterminded a conservation project for the Church and Friary of St Francis, also in Manchester, which is one of the world's most endangered monuments.

Images of the King's Buildings development have been unveiled ahead of a public presentation on the plans. The plan includes the creation of a "green heart" area as a social focus for students and staff, with the library as the centrepiece.

Adam Ramsay, president of the Edinburgh University Students Association, said: "We are all very excited about this, as current campus has really struggled to have a centre for the community, and this library could provide that."

He added: "It will also give us excellent facilities to study in, and that is one of the many criteria prospective students look at when choosing their university."

The development also includes the creation of improved parking facilities, to encourage the 1500 staff and 5000 students to park on-site rather than on neighbouring roads.

There will be a public presentation on the plans in the Weir Building, West Mains Road, on Tuesday, November 18, at 6.30pm. Those wishing to attend should contact the university on 0131-650 5759.