Model British Library JLP01_11_60453_12
BRITISH LIBRARY, EUSTON ROAD, ST PANCRAS, CAMDEN, GREATER LONDON. The British Library's architect, Colin St. John Wilson and Laing dignitaries admire a scale model of the building at a reception to celebrate its completion.
Those pictured are Martin Laing, Laing Group Chairman, Peter Gregory, Chairman of Laing Management and Tony Atkinhead, Managing Director of Laing Management.
The British Library as an entity was established in 1973 by an act of parliament bringing together various disparate elements including the collections of the British Museum Library, the National Sound Archive and the National Lending Library for Science and Technology. One of the first challenges it faced was to find a building in which all these elements could be brought together. Laing were appointed to manage the construction project by the Property Services Agency and work began at the St. Pancras site in 1984. The building opened to the public in November 1997 and was official opened by the Queen in June 1998. Under previous arrangements a rare book could take 4 days to made available to you but with 25 million items under one roof this had been reduced to as little as 20 minutes. The modernist design by Colin St. John Wilson wasn't widely appreciated at the time but the building was listed at Grade I in 2015 and he was quoted in Construction magazine as saying "the first 20 years are the worst... will have been in and out of fashion 10 times before I've finished. You have to build a concept and stand by it." The British Library was just an idea for 25 years, took 13 years to build and was designed to last 500 years
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