Voted the best attraction out of more than 100 venues in Liverpool by TripAdvisor users in 2014 and with a consistent five star rating, the multiple award-winning Liverpool Central Library truly showcases just what can be achieved when you have a vision to seamlessly marry the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ in a live city centre environment.
The challenge for the Shepherd team was striking the right balance between restoration, renovation and a contemporary new build. The redevelopment of the existing Grade ll listed building also included significant demolition to sections that were previously affected by World War II bomb damage, which were subsequently replaced with a complete new building to bring the library into the 21st Century.
Delivering this project on time and within budget was no mean feat. The construction and engineering services team had extremely restricted site space within a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The demolition was technically complex as it involved the retention of the existing facade whilst carefully separating the side walls from the adjoining buildings. This was of particular importance when the World Museum Liverpool and the Walker Art Gallery are the library’s neighbours with priceless artifacts and paintings just feet away.
The intricacies of restoring a Grade ll listed building involved seeking numerous planning consents which were signed-off by a conservation officer and finding acoustic solutions within a historic environment wasn’t easy.
The contemporary new build starts with the grand entrance to the library and provides exceptional features that simply entice the general public both in terms of design and style. What has been achieved is the architect’s aspiration to create contemporary spaces that both complement and contradict the existing architecture and meeting the library’s vision to attract future generations to come.
The library hosts a number of facilities including a unique space for children to discover, 15,000 rare books in the Hornby Library and Oak Room, the magnificent Picton Reading Room, Wi-Fi access throughout the building, 150 computers and iPads, an archive repository meeting exacting national standards, a ground floor café and spectacular views from the roof terrace.