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a PhD in live projects and architectural education

The library-lover is impressed: Queens University’s new College Park library open

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Queens University Belfast has a shiny new library, open ahead of schedule and with plenty of time for the finishing touches before the new term starts. I had my first look around this week, sadly with only a noisy and fuzzy camera phone to snap some shots.

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Those of you familiar with my dissatisfaction of cheap, nasty and badly designed ‘information commons’ are re-assured that the signs are good. The new College Park Library, designed by the American architectural practice Shepley Bulfinch with local input from the Robinson Patterson Partnership, is an enticing place to study in. There is generous provision of study tables and the fit and finish of the materials and detailing is impressive. I particular like the furniture on the upper levels, like these overlooking the main atrium.

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The main collection now fits comfortably under one roof (although I have no idea what provision has been made for the rate of expansion) with three lending levels that keep humanities, social sciences and the sciences together on their own levels.

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The staggered stacks create a simple but attractive effect around the edges and through the middle of each floor.

The building claims some impressive figures with regard to energy efficiency. The only disappointment on that front is the usual insane pairing of motion detectors with energy saving lamps in some of the lesser used circulation spaces (namely between the main library levels and the secondary staircases). Energy saving bulbs and strip lighting are least efficient when turned on and off repeatedly, as they will be in lesser used through spaces such as the anteroom between a staircase and the library levels. However, luckily there is no sign of the faux-disco-on-off strip lighting and autistic colourschemes found in a certain building I no longer frequent. I very much look forward to discovering this new building in the coming months and years.

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