The transformation of the Grade Il* listed library as part of the wider refurbishment of Manchester’s town hall complex, widely regarded as one of the finest groups of civic buildings in the country. The library had become tired, cluttered and no longer viable. The existing symmetrical circular structure was disorientating and stairs were enclosed and uninviting. Through early and ongoing consultation with English Heritage, the major heritage spaces were refurbished to their former glory and new interventions were designed as modern features within the neo classical structure. The design for transformation was founded on two bold interventions into the historic fabric of the building – removal of existing book stacks to create ground level public access and a new public floor and the insertion of new stairs and lifts to link all the floors. Since re opening visitor numbers have doubled, with a remarkable 5,000 visitors on its opening day and over 300,000 in the first three months.
Manchester Central Library