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Jim Eyre becomes first architect to receive Bodley Medal

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Wilkinson Eyre co-founder Jim Eyre has received the Bodley Medal from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library

The medal, which is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to literature, culture, science or communication, was handed to Eyre on Monday night (2 February).

Eyre became the first architect to receive the award which has previously gone to novelist Hilary Mantel, writer and actor Alan Bennett, film director Richard Attenborough, author PD James and inventor of the world wide web Tim Berners-Lee.

The practice worked on the refurbishment of the Giles Gilbert Scott’s grade II-listed New Bodleian Library, now named the Weston Library.

‘Jim’s thorough understanding of cultural spaces and his passion for libraries was a driving force behind the success of this three-year project to breathe new life into the 1930s structure and to open up the building and the collections to the scholarly community in Oxford, the international researchers who use the building’, according to a statement from the Bodleian Libraries.

Eyre said: ‘I am delighted to receive this unexpected honour for our part in transforming this extraordinary building. It has been both a privilege and a challenge to be working within such an important historic context, and with such a unique collection of books and manuscripts. Our design celebrates these precious objects and I am very proud to be a part of the team that has worked to protect the future of this cultural and intellectual landmark.’

The medal was first engraved in 1646 to honour Thomas Bodley, the founder of the Bodleian Library. When the roof of Duke Humfrey’s Library was being replaced during major renovations in the millennium, the idea was conceived of using the metal from the its roof to create a number of replicas of the original medal. These were struck in 2001 at the Royal Mint, to celebrate the restoration the library, the first purpose-built library in the university founded in 1438.

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