Edinburgh University Library

Basil Spence, Ferguson, Glover , Edinburgh, 1967


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View from East Meadow park 

Henk Snoek     Download Original

  • View from East Meadow park    
  • George Square facade    
  • North facade and George Square    
  • Library entrance    
  • Library from George Square at night    
  • Entrance hall    
  • Service desk    
  • Stairs in entrance hall    
  • Main staircase    
  • Second floor reading room    
  • Interchangable uses on stack floors    
  • Stack ranges and enquiry desk    
  • Undergraduate reading room    
  • Cataloguing room seen from entrance hall    
  • Location plan    
  • Site plan    
  • Lower ground floor plan    
  • Ground and first floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Lower ground, ground, first, scond and typical upper floor plans    
  • Long section    
  • Cross section    

Eight storey precast concrete library on Edinburgh's George Square, an integral part of the university’s post-war expansion programme

The University’s prime requirement was for a flexible building that could adapt to the changing needs of the library. With this in mind, the architects specified floor plates able to take stack loads at all points, and kept the number of structural partitions to a minimum.

A series of stipulations dictated the building’s form; height was restricted by the Planning Authority and the use of a podium by the university’s development plan. Constructed from precast concrete elements, the podium is externally clad in York stone and the balcony fronts in a veneer of Portland stone. The use of fine materials continued internally with teak fixtures and fittings and quartzite floors.

The lower two stories contain administration, exhibition and ancillary spaces, while the upper five stories are dedicated to book storage and provide 2,500 reader spaces.

On completion, Edinburgh University library contained over two million books, making it the largest of Britain’s university libraries.


  • Begun: Mar 1965
  • Completed: Aug 1967
  • Floor area: 27,932m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £1.8M
  • Tender date: Dec 1964
  • Procurement: Negotiated fixed price all trades, Scottish conditions 1954
  • Address: 30 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LJ, United Kingdom

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