LCE were invited to join the Community Solutions Consortium in a PFI bid for a replacement Library in Liverpool City Centre. The brief, to create a sustainable, 21st century library from the existing Grade II* listed buildings on a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the St George’s Hall Cultural Quarter of the Liverpool City centre, was remarkably challenging for the PFI process. The team, working closely with one of the country’s leading Conservation Architects, Giles Quarme, were successful in being short listed down to one of three with a scheme which was admired by the Client and the Consortium, obtaining the highest scores for the key design elements of the PFI evaluation.
A new Library footplate over 4 floors, with dramatic atria and light wells through all floors, was to be inserted between the adjacent Museum and the Grade II* listed buildings retained from the existing Library, namely the rotunda known as the Picton Reading Room, designed by Cornelius Sherlock, the Hornby Library by Corporation Surveyor Thomas Shelmerdine and the Oak Room. The new layout also incorporated a courtyard that was to open views from the main Library floors to the drum of the Picton Hall with its detached Corinthian columns, rich entablature and domed roof. The main focus of the refurbishment works was to be the uncovering and restoring the original fabric, incorporating new design features where appropriate to both make better use of the space and to further enjoy the existing listed buildings.
At the rear of the new Library Hall was to be a five storey archive building to house the Liverpool Records Office – the biggest and busiest outside of London – expanded to accommodate 20 years of acquisitions, in addition to the existing 14 km of archives, in state-of-the-art protective facilities.