John Rylands Library

Austin-Smith:Lord, Manchester, 2007


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ASL's extension to the John Rylands Library 

Ian Lawson     Download Original

  • ASL    
  • Visitors can access the ground and third storeys by the central stairwell and lift core. Additional stairwells serve the book storage stacks used by library employees    
  • Cutaway walls in the atrium frame views of Champneys’ original building    
  • A glass bridge brings visitors from the extension to the main library    
  • Both the original building and the extension are designed in three parts, with the extension’s glazed ground storey, bronze-clad middle storey and glass-encased roof responding to the original’s base, set-back upper two storeys and pitched roof    
  • There are three floors of conditioned archive storage - 10,000 metres of linear shelving on rolling racks    
  • There are three floors of conditioned archive storage - 10,000 metres of linear shelving on rolling racks    
  • The extension’s top-floor reading room gives users access to the library’s archives    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Third floor plan    
  • Cross section    
  • South elevation    

Extension to the Grade I listed John Rylands Library in Manchester city centre

The £12.5 million scheme for the University of Manchester, which manages the library, included both a restoration of the existing structure and the construction of a new extension which houses 10,000 linear metres of books and increase accessibility throughout the library.

Working with conservation architect Lloyd Evans Prichard, the refurbishments to the existing library included cleaning, new windows, emergency lighting and fire and security systems. The largest new feature is a pitched roof with skylights filtering light into the original clerestories.

The building contains numerous circulation systems that function in parallel. The public only needs access to the ground and top floors keeping their circulations relatively simple.


  • Begun: Dec 2003
  • Completed: 2007
  • Sectors: Education, Civic
  • Total cost: £12.5M
  • Procurement: Standard Form of Building Contract 1998 Edition with Contractor's Designed Portion Supplement
  • Address: The John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester , Oxford Road , Manchester, M13 9PP, United Kingdom

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