Sir Duncan Rice Library

In 2011 and replacing the Queen Mother Libary as Aberdeen Universities main library, Sir Duncan Rice Library was opened.

It was designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects, who won the design competition set by the university. These now world-renowned architects have developed other notable buildings such as the Commonwealth Pier in Boston, United States, as well as another stunning building for the University of Bristol, UK.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen describe it as ”University of Aberdeen Library is designed as one large rectangular volume – a 10-storey building standing out in the Aberdeen skyscape. Visual lightness and airiness in combination with its proportionality, materials palette and clean lines lend the building a timeless quality. A large organic opening that cuts through the floors at every level creates continuous visual connections throughout the full height of the building. This atrium is the central hub of the building. In contrast to the orthogonal geometry of the exterior.”

It was a year after opening that it was renamed to the Sir Duncan Rice Library. Rice was the Universities principal between 1996 and 2010. Prior to his position as principal, he was vice-chancellor at New York University. He was born in Aberdeen, and he came back to his roots after also studying himself at the university. He graduated in 1964 with a degree in history.

Seven stories high, the building is clad in Zebra like the material of white and coloured glass. It makes for a stunning appeal. Whilst a square-like structure outside, the inside has a very organic feel. The atrium creeps up the ten stories; the shapes shift almost nature like. The outside and inside make an interesting contrast in design styles and construction methods.

There are over 1,200 reading spaces throughout the seven stories and space for a whopping 400,000 books. An incredible 13 kilometres of shelving hold these books. The whole university library combined, with the Taylor Building and Foresterhill amass to over a million books. That’s a lot of reading!

An incredible 700,000 people visited the library in the first year alone. It really has taken people from all over the world to visit and take in this fabulous bit of architecture and learn the vast array of books and resources.

In 2012 - Evolutionary Loop 517, a 6.25-metre bronze sculpture by Nasser Azam was placed outside the building. A stunning piece that complements the library very well.

The Mother Nature TV network featured the library in a series of the “most beautiful libraries in the world”. It was very fitting for a stunning piece of architecture and usable resource.

Anyone can access the library; you need a pass, though, which can be created by giving your name and address. What are you waiting for?

Next: St Machar’s Cathedral