History Faculty Library

Selected on the basis of a competition, James Stirling's most controversial work consists of a great double-glazed sloping roof over the reading room contrasted with the multistoried structure containing enclosed spaces, which in turn are stepped to accommodate larger spaces on the lower floors. The stair tower is articulated as a separate element. The powerful image caused an ambivalent response from critics and the public. The building design was violently attacked in the British press, although defended by the history faculty. In 1985 consideration was given as to whether the building should be destroyed. The building has suffered from lack of maintenance and deterioration, but has since been repaired.

It was necessary to provide multi-directional approaches in the History Faculty. To allow for different cross-campus circulation routes four entrances have been provided, two of which are at ground level. At the front of the building there is also an approach by ramp to the staff entrance.

The accommodation includes a reading room for 300 readers (12,600 square feet of shelving) which accounts for approximately half the floor area; the other accommodation is staff, seminar and common rooms.


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