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Caruso St John and AOC on shortlist for Gladstone’s Library revamp

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The RIBA has named four finalists in its contest for a major £4.5 million overhaul and expansion of the Grade I-listed Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, Flintshire in Wales

AOC Architecture, Caruso St John Architects, Hopkins Architects and Simpson & Brown have all been invited to participate in the design competition for the commission following an open prequalification round. Proposals will be presented to the jury on 27 June.

Designs by all the shortlisted schemes are currently on anonymous, public display in the Gladstone Room until Wednesday.

The project aims to attract a broader range of audiences to the 1902 English Gothic facility. It will redevelop the historic library and landscape created as an intellectual and spiritual legacy by former Liberal prime minister William Gladstone while also creating a ‘complementary but quite different’ hall to host an expanded programme of debates, lectures and events.

Gladstone’s Library warden and director Peter Francis said: ‘From a surprisingly large number of applicants we are excited by the proven standard, ability and range of the shortlisted architects. They represent the best of British design. We are confident that we will be able to produce a building of outstanding merit.’

Gladstone served four terms as prime minister during his 60 years in politics, which reshaped the economic and democratic basis of Victorian society.

Gladstone’s Library was designed by John Douglas and completed in 1902 as a landmark structure to house the former prime minister’s personal book collection.

Today the building, which is the UK’s only prime ministerial library, holds more than 250,000 volumes and receives around 23,000 visitors each year. The site also has residential facilities.

The competition was launched around two and a half years after Manchester-based OMI won an earlier contest to restore and expand the building.

The library says that the latest project will be dedicated to the three defining themes of Gladstone’s political career: human rights and genocide, the evolution of democracy, and religious tolerance.

The winning team will remodel and repair the Grade I-listed structure; deliver a sustainable ‘new hall’ featuring a shop, reception area, and lecturing and catering facilities; and provide new staff and visitor facilities including a six-bedroom study centre. The project is planned to complete in 2022.

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