On Monday, schmidt hammer lassen architects’ new library building for the University of Aberdeen in Scotland was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who officially named the facility the Sir Duncan Rice Library after the institution’s former Principal and Vice Chancellor. The 15,500 sq m library is a modern replacement for the Queen Mother Library which was completed in 1965, and has been in operation since September 2011.
The Sir Duncan Rice Library is a brave contemporary design whose external façade is defined by a series of insulated panels and high performance glazing which form an abstract pattern across its exterior. Since opening last year, the university has seen a vast increase in the number of students using its library facilities with over 700,000 visitors recorded in the last twelve months.
University Librarian and Director for Special Collections and Museums at the University of Aberdeen, Chris Banks is delighted with this progress: “The building is a bold and affirmative statement from the University. It says ‘We mean business’ and it also says ‘You are welcome here’. I love the way in which academics demonstrate their pride in the building: by bringing colleagues from other universities into it and also by bringing along members of their own families.
“I’m also delighted that the building has attracted so many more students to use the library and the way in which it provides for both social and formal meeting spaces. It has, for the first time, allowed us to truly showcase our very significant special collections.”
One can clearly see the Danish design aesthetic from schmidt hammer lassen from the sleek, spiralling atrium which links all eight floors of the library through an open void. The visual connection is designed as a ‘dynamic vortex’ which ‘contrasts the clean cut exterior profile’. As with all schmidt hammer lassen designs, sustainability plays a key role with the Sir Duncan Rice Library achieving the classification of BREEAM Excellent.
Morten Schmidt, Founding Partner of schmidt hammer lassen architects says: “The University to Aberdeen New Library functions as a meeting place and a cultural centre for the students of the University as well as the Aberdeen community. The façade of the building shimmers during the day and glows softly at night, creating a luminous landmark - a beacon - for the city of Aberdeen.”