British Library signs development agreement for 100,000 sq ft extension

Project brief and design advice provided by MRC

Image courtesy of the British Library

The British Library has signed a development agreement with a consortium of developers, architects and engineers, marking the next step in the Library’s ambitious plans for a 100,000 sq ft extension to its home at St Pancras in London.

On a 2.8-acre site to the north of the Grade I listed Library, which was designed by Colin St John Wilson and MJ Long, the project will address the need for additional space at one of London’s most iconic buildings, which is used by over 1.5 million people each year as a space for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

This initiative will be delivered by SMBL Developments Ltd, a partnership comprising Stanhope plc and Mitsui Fudosan UK Ltd with architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and engineers Arup, and will create a world-class 21st-century knowledge hub to support the British Library’s mission, as well as new headquarters for the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national centre for data science and artificial intelligence.

The new building will provide state-of-the-art facilities for events, learning and exhibitions, expand the Library’s support for businesses and entrepreneurs, provide world-beating facilities for its Conservation Centre and Sound Archive Studios, and create a new northern entrance facing onto public realm.

New commercial spaces will attract businesses and organisations that wish to be located at the heart of London’s emerging Knowledge Quarter at St Pancras (co-founded by the British Library in 2014), a collaboration of now over 90 knowledge, creative and research organisations all located within a one-mile radius of the Library.

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) acted as Architectural Adviser providing strategic design advice to the British Library during the search for the team to undertake the project.

In parallel, MRC led the development of the project brief, engaging extensively with the Library’s departments to understand their space and operational requirements and absorbing wider strategic aims and initiatives.

Following the development of the brief, MRC was retained by the Library to provide expert guidance and support as the project moves forward.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said:

‘We are delighted to have signed this landmark agreement with our partners, as we take a leading role in expanding the UK’s dynamic knowledge economy. This project ensures we continue to grow as an open, creative and innovative institution at the heart of the Knowledge Quarter, in service to our growing public audiences in London, the rest of the UK and around the world.’

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

‘The British Library is a world-class cultural and intellectual institution. From the Magna Carta to The Beatles’ manuscripts, it acts as a custodian of our written and spoken heritage, and showcases it to the world through its international programmes.
‘This agreement will help the British Library build on their existing world-class exhibitions, deliver more and better facilities for learners, and create some exciting new public spaces.’

Malcolm Reading, Chairman of MRC, said:

‘It has been an enormous privilege to assist the British Library in this momentous endeavour. The team selected to deliver the new building offers a rich combination of talent, dedication and experience, and we look forward to seeing their labours bear fruit in the years ahead.’

More details about the British Library’s expansion can be found here.