The British Library
96 Euston Road
Colin St John Wilson and Partners 1997
The British Library was completed in
1997, the end of a project that had been running from 1975. Impressing with a building in
the late 1990s based a twenty-year old design was a challenge - but arguably a fair one,
given that the brief said the building should have a working life of 200 to 250 years.
'The design principles derive from
the mid-nineteenth century English Free School... a functional approach, allowing each
building to develop according to its particular needs and through a free gothic form
rather than employing classical Orders and conventions. Sir George Gilbert Scott's St
Pancras Chambers (1867) next door is a superb example.
'The gulf between the sheer size of
the building and the scale of its human users has been bridged by employing such devices
as varied surfaces on which to sit, balconies on which to lean, short flights of steps and
escalators, and visually breaking up large expanses of floor surface through a grid
pattern in the stone and brick paving. Every detail from the readers' chairs to the book
trolleys has been specially designed.'
Samantha Hardingham in London: a
guide to recent architecture (Ellipsis 1999) - see below.
How to visit
The British Library is on the north side of
Euston Road, between Euston and King's Cross stations (and a few minutes walk from
Information about location
and opening hours
is on the British Library web site. For specifics, contact Reader Services Enquiries: