Media Release: GRAHAM checks out £10 million National Library of Scotland refurbishment

GRAHAM Construction has been awarded the £10 million contract to replace the exterior of the National Library of Scotland (NLS) in Edinburgh’s Causewayside.

The external envelope of the building has experienced problems for several years and significant work is required to ensure the building remains watertight.

All of the building’s curtain walling, rain screen cladding, glazing, stonework and the roof will be replaced as part of the contract, which will also see the building transformed into a low energy storage space, significantly reducing energy consumption, and extending its capacity to safeguard resources for the nation.

Around two million maps, atlases, gazetteers, and cartographic reference works and periodicals are stored in the Causewayside building, which opened in two phases in 1989 and 1995.

Causewayside is the largest property within the National Library of Scotland’s estate and extends to more than 19,000m² over seven levels, two of which are below ground.

Over the years, the compound effect of deteriorating materials and complexity of the building design has led to the issues which now require correcting.

GRAHAM will implement a series of temporary solutions to allow the library to remain in operation throughout the works.

Regional director at GRAHAM Construction, Neil McFarlane, said: “The National Library of Scotland is a one-of-a-kind facility, both in terms of its function and its design.

“It contains millions of important documents, many which require to be kept in a climate-controlled environment, and it would be simply impossible to decant the collection to another location.

“We are therefore working to develop a solution which will allow these documents to remain in place while still giving us the necessary access to complete the works.

“We intend to take a phased approach to the project, with the first half of the work completed by the first half of 2016 and the entire scheme completed by 2018.”

NLS is Scotland’s only legal deposit library and can claim a copy of all printed material published in the UK.

The NLS takes in more than 4,000 new items every week, requiring three kilometres of new shelving a year.

Duncan Campbell, NLS deputy chief executive, said: “There are particular challenges in refurbishing the Causewayside building while maintaining public access to the collections.

“We are delighted to be working with GRAHAM on this contract which will create conditions to safeguard the collections for many years to come.”

GRAHAM Construction has a track record of tackling unique construction projects and overcoming design challenges around Scotland.

In Edinburgh, the contractor completed the £37 million refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool, which involved effectively excavating below the pool’s foundations and transferring loads onto temporary foundations, lifting the entire building 4mm off the ground in the process, and reconfiguring the diving pool by 45 degrees while adjusting its depth from 5m to 6m.

Across in the west, GRAHAM completed the innovative core and shell of the £82 million Scottish Crime Campus building at Gartcosh and has recently delivered the £32 million Port Glasgow Community Campus.


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