Shepley Bulfinch-designed library at Queen’s University in Belfast wins sustainability award

The McClay Library at Queen’s University in Belfast has won the RICS sustainability award. The £50m building was designed by Boston-based architects Shepley Bulfinch previously responsible for libraries at Yale and Harvard. The team worked alongside local architect RPP on the McClay scheme.

Named after the late Sir Allen McClay, one of Queen’s greatest benefactors, the library is illuminated by a multi-storey open atrium, has 2,000 reader places and houses 1.2 million volumes. It attracts over 10,000 visitors each day.

The design aimed to reduce energy loads and provide energy input as efficiently as possible. Energy, fuel and water consumption is recorded and reviewed against targets on a quarterly basis. During the design and specification process, environmentally-friendly materials were selected, all of which can be refurbished or recycled after use.

The sustainability judge Jim Ure described the library as “an invaluable resource for students at Queen’s University Belfast”.

He said: “The building achieves excellence on two fronts: in terms of providing essential educational support, and through its distinction in sustainability. On both counts, it is an exceptional project.”

Gary Jebb, Queen’s director of estates, said: “The McClay Library reflects the university’s commitment to scholarship, the environment, and the future. Sustainability was a critical factor in its design and construction, in keeping with the University’s environmental policy, and we are obviously delighted that this has been recognised by the RICS.”