One of Northern Ireland’s newest landmark buildings – the McClay Library at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland – was officially opened today by one of the University’s most famous alumni, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.
Speaking at the event, Dr Heaney lauded the new library, saying, calling it “a lightship for scholarship…” He went on to comment on how the library represents the role of technology in transforming how students learn.
Illuminated by a multi-story open atrium, the 196,000 square foot building accommodates 2,000 reader places and 1.2 million volumes. Ground floor facilities include IT training rooms, a language center, library and computer support areas and a cafe. The upper floors house Special Collections, subject-related help desks, and a range of printed works. A central feature, located in the tower above the entrance, is the C.S. Lewis Room, which honors the acclaimed Belfast native. Special Collections also include papers relating to Seamus Heaney’s award-winning translation of Beowulf.
The Library is a model of sustainable design, with natural ventilation and operable windows; a chilled beam system; and heat recovery systems. The thermal mass of the building is utilized as a heat sink, while a rainwater harvesting system conserves water with utilising recycled rainwater.
Shepley Bulfinch President Carole Wedge said: “Not only does the McClay Library give Queen’s a new physical landmark, but it also reflects the University’s commitment to scholarship, the environment, and the future. It is part of the legacy of my colleague, the late Sandy Howe, who was the Library’s design architect.”
Shepley Bulfinch was the library’s design architect in association with Robinson Patterson Partnership of Northern Ireland and Buro Happold Engineers of Scotland. Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson called the Library “a shining example of the power of international collaboration and its benefits to the people of Northern Ireland.”
Shepley Bulfinch is a leader in the design of academic libraries in the US, the UK, and Ireland, with clients including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Duke, and Oxford Universities. The firm was the design architect of the 2008 expansion of the Boole Library at University College, Cork, in the Republic of Ireland.