ABK Architects’ design for this Library was the winning entry in an international competition held in 1960. The brief called for a new building that would represent the 20th century as the College’s earlier buildings represented the 18th and 19th.
This new library creates a forecourt, on a podium, between two of these earlier buildings. It dialogues with the College’s urban language of partially enclosed courts and gardens.
The basement level under the library extends beyond the footprint of the building and under the forecourt, and provides room for the vast quantities of storage required. The ground floor of the library houses the catalogue and reference section, while the first and second floors are merged into a large reading room and open-access book storage area, mostly lit by rooflights. In this level, a wide array of smaller cells and sub-spaces, with a variety of built-in furniture, provides different kinds of study spaces.
The predominant material is white reinforced concrete. A sequence of storey-high, curved glass bay windows in bronze frames contrasts with the orthogonal forms of the concrete and granite on the walls.Photographs by John Donat, Walter Rawlings and Antoine Raffoul