Construction has started on the new £1.5 million home for the Wiener Library, designed by Barbara Weiss Architects
The Islington-based practice has been working since 2002 on the project, which will see the conversion of the grade II-listed Georgian terrace in Russell Square, central London into a ‘tailored’ home for more than one million items relating to the Holocaust.
The library’s unique and extensive collection - started in 1933 - includes published and unpublished works, press cuttings, photographs and eyewitness testimony.
Key to the project, is the restoration of the 18th century building’s first floor ‘to provide a superb, bright reading room, doubling reader capacity, and a library area with storage for 350 linear metres of reader-accessible bookshelves’.
The proposal includes a new mezzanine walkway, allowing access to the upper shelves within the library.
There are also plans for a large meeting room on the ground floor, offices and teaching spaces on the second and third floors and four climate-controlled bookstores in the basement.
The practice has also been commissioned to design new bespoke timber reception, librarian and readers’ desks.
Practice founder, Barbara Weiss, said: ‘This poorly maintained building will be getting its first major renovation in half a century; for us, as architects, it is a superb opportunity to provide an elegant and sustainable home for the Wiener Library for many years to come. ‘
She added: ‘Throughout the project we have sought to retain original details where they exist, replacing and restoring elements that have been damaged, but also updating the building and considering its longer term future. Sympathy to the building’s listed status has been paramount.”
Work is due to complete in Spring next year (2011) in time for a summer opening of the new Wiener library - the world’s oldest holocaust memorial.
Architect: Barbara Weiss Architects
Structural engineers: Bartons
Mechanical engineers: PDA