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O'Hare & McGovern

The McClay Library & David Bates Building

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Project Info

  • Project Category:
    Further Education
  • Project Name:
    The McClay Library & David Bates Building
  • Client:
    Queen’s University
  • Location:
    College Park Ave, Belfast, BT7 1LQ, N.I.
  • Architect:
    RPP Architects & Shepley Bulfinch

Project Overview

This project was procured under competitive tendering and was designed to preserve the historic fabric of the renowned site whilst laying foundations for the future. 

It provides a high quality sustainable building in an urban setting, complementing the wider Queen’s Conservation Area whilst reflecting the architectural concepts and building practices of the era within which it has been built.

Works consisted of the construction of a new library and an adjacent mathematics building which was carried out in two main phases. Phase 1 contained the construction of the mathematics building and one third of the library. Phase 2 included the demolition of the old mathematics building (David Bates Building) and the completion of the remainder of the library with external landscaping and carparking facilities. The construction method was a concrete framed structure with brick, stone cladding and curtain walling façades.

The new 4 storey mathematics building has lecture rooms for classes of up to 70 students which was designed to be a lower-scale building than the library, with windows and storey heights in keeping with the character and scale of the residential neighbourhood creating a ‘buffer zone’ between the new library development and the nearby residential properties which also reduced the transmission of construction noise throughout the Phase 2 construction period.

The University’s vision was to build a central, high quality library to achieve a seamless range of service and support for users, and an environment that will encourage multi-disciplinary learning and collaboration. The library is six stories high including the roof plantroom with extensive basement construction. It is almost fully glazed, while building façade materials of brick, glass and sandstone are sympathetic to the nearby brick buildings of the Lanyon quadrangle and neighbouring residential townhouses. On the west elevation, elegant vertical windows are designed to welcome visitors, while the tower identifies the main entrance to the Library and mirrors the nearby original University building. A high quality plaza has transformed what was an uninspiring corner of the University main site. 

The scheme also incorporates a landscaped car park to the north of the Library and the realignment and landscaping of College Park from the Botanic Avenue junction to the Botanic Gardens gates, all of which significantly enhance its overall setting.

Key Features

  • Winner of ‘Achieving Excellence Partnering Award’ at the CEF Specify Construction Excellence Awards 2009
  • Winner of a prestigious national SCONUL award for its Outstanding Architectural Design & Facilities
  • Very Good BREEAM rating
  • Two Stage Tender Procurement Route; JCT 98 lump sum with quantities
  • Accommodates over 1 million visits each year & 200 staff
  • Site on live University campus & was bounded by Belfast’s most famous park (Botanic Gardens) & a densely populated residential area
  • Phase 2 included the demolition of the old mathematics building (David Bates Building) & asbestos removal
  • Facilities includes; a multi-storey open atrium, 2000 reader places, unparalleled facilities for study, an exhibition space, Café, language laboratory, multi-media resources & study areas
  • Air tightness testing achieved 9.03 cu m/hour/sqm, almost 10% better than required
  • Ground cooling system uses 100m deep boreholes with circulating water to add to the cooling system of the building, reducing the need for energy sapping air handling units in warmer weather.

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