Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

New Queen’s library wins worldwide design award

Gary Jebb of Queens University with Alistair Dunn, chairman of the RICS Northern Ireland judging panel

One of south Belfast’s newest landmarks — the £50 million McClay Library at Queen’s University — has won a global award as a model of sustainable design.

At the grand final of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Awards in the Guildhall in London, the McClay Library won the sustainability category, defeating prestigious property projects from around the world.

More than 450 building projects entered the RICS Awards which are regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the built and natural environment. The McClay Library was one of only four category winners.

Queen’s Director of Estates, Gary Jebb, who received the award from Michael Portillo, said: “The McClay Library reflects the University’s commitment to scholarship, the environment, and the future.

“Sustainability was a critical factor in its design and construction, in keeping with the University's environmental policy, and we are obviously delighted that this has been recognised by the RICS.”

Judge Jim Ure said: “The building achieves excellence on two fronts: in terms of providing essential educational support, and through its distinction in sustainability. On both counts, it is an exceptional project.”

RICS Northern Ireland Director, Ben Collins, paid tribute to the project team. He said: “This project illustrates the capacity of chartered surveyors and other building professionals in Northern Ireland to have a hugely positive impact in economic and social terms.

“When resources are tight, it is more important than ever to ensure that buildings are as efficient as possible and provide maximum benefit to communities.”

Named after the late Sir Allen McClay, one of Queen’s greatest benefactors, the Library is illuminated by a multi-storey open atrium, has 2,000 reader places and houses 1.2 million volumes. Ground floor facilities include IT training rooms, a Language Centre, Library and Computer support areas and a cafe.

The upper storeys house the University’s Special Collections, subject-related enquiry points and a vast range of printed works.

The building was designed by Boston-based architects Shepley Bulfinch, who had previously designed and developed major academic libraries at Yale and Harvard, and who worked in association with RPP, Belfast.

The building attracts more than 10,000 users and visitors each day.

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