Original features

July 23, 2009

When the University of Leicester's library was refurbished and extended recently, the architects had to take account both of changing student needs and of the building's position at the heart of campus, close to two listed buildings.

One is the Fielding Johnson Building, Leicester's main administrative centre, which served as an asylum until a 1907 report announced that "lunacy in Leicester is considerably below the average". In 1919, it was given to Leicester City Council by Thomas Fielding Johnson, a local philanthropist, to establish what is now the university.

The other is the even more architecturally significant Engineering Building, designed by James Stirling and James Gowan and completed in 1963.

The three-year revamp of the David Wilson Library, which originally opened in 1975, was finished in 2008. It is built around an open atrium and incorporates a 500-seat lecture theatre, seminar rooms, 350 IT desks and a bookshop.

The clarity of the library's design, by Associated Architects, and its sensitivity to its setting and to green issues all came in for praise when the building won the Royal Institute of British Architects' East Midlands Award for Architecture last year.

Send suggestions for this architectural series to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.co.uk

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