The London Library, founded by Thomas Carlyle in 1841, is the world's largest independent lending library, and is located in the north west corner of St James Square in buildings dating back to the 1890s. Behind its discrete, formal facade onto St James Square, the original Library was added to and extended on a number of occasions in the course of the 20th century to accommodate its ever growing collection of books.
“The Library is proof positive that the best contemporary architects are capable or reproducing the complex and refined atmospheres of our best-loved institutions. The London Library has a new layer of History that ranks with the original and will surely be loved by its members. ”
Kieran Long, Evening Standard
Haworth Tompkins were appointed to oversee the latest expansion of the Library's facilities. Through an analysis of the Library, its identity, its capacity and future needs, a master plan was developed to extend the Library's facilities whilst upgrading the existing accommodation and improving the circulation and accessibility to all parts of the Library.
The first phase of work, completed in 2007 involved extending the Library into TS Elliot House (see separate Project Page). The second phase completed in 2010 provides 42 new reader spaces,1.25km of new shelving, new designated rooms for the Art Book Collection, Times Collection and Periodicals and Societies Collection, improved circulation, remodelling of the main Issue Hall and the creation of a new members entrance from Mason's Yard. The design develops a contemporary architectural language that responds to the authentic idiosyncrasies of an historic institution. As in Phase One, new toilets were designed in collaboration with Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed. This created a conceptual dialogue to think specifically about the way in which the atmosphere of the building might be amplified and articulated by the new proposals.
The London Library
Address: 14 St James's Square, London
Completion Date: July 2010
Construction Cost: £6.9M
Client: The London Library
Structural Engineer: Price and Myers LLP
Services Engineer: Max Fordham LLP
Quantity Surveyor: Gardiner and Theobald
Lighting Design: Arup
Access Consultants: Babel
Artist Collaboration: Martin Creed
RIBA National Award
RIBA London Regional Award
New London Award
AIA UK Excellence in Design Award