Wates signs pre-construction deal on British Library archive

Grant Prior 3 months ago
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Wates has been appointed as pre-construction stage partner on the redevelopment of the British Library site at Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

The 45-week PCSC (pre-construction services consultant) role will see Wates working alongside the client’s design team up to RIBA Stage 4 with services engineer, Buro Happold and London-based, architectural practice, Carmody Groarke.

The scheme involves the construction of a new 28m high, 5274m2, fully automated net zero carbon archive building which will feature a public viewing gallery and 220km of extra shelf space together with an extensive renovation of the nearby 1970s Brutalist-style Urquhart Building for the library’s 550 on-site staff, including a new reading room, restaurant and café for visitors.

Working in close collaboration with its design team partners, Wates will work with its supply chain to help develop the design and accurately cost the project so that at the end of the 45-week period the final contract price can be agreed.

Phil Spence, Chief Operating Officer, British Library, said: “This is a significant milestone for our Boston Spa site, which will transform the accessibility of our collections and services to people nationally. We look forward to working with our design team to deliver vital facilities that will support the growth of the national collection and open up access to a new generation of visitors.”

David Wingfield, Regional Director North East, Wates Construction, said: “We are delighted with our appointment. We know from past projects that the most critical success factors when constructing airtight buildings are genuine partnership and teamwork, for which Wates Construction has a proven track record.

“This project will set the standard for facilities of this type worldwide.  Nothing like this archive has been built in the UK before, where the environment is completely airtight, and when complete, a fully automated racking and robotics system will be used to retrieve documents.

“It is both a fascinating and challenging project to work on, requiring cutting edge sustainable design solutions, and given its novel, world-beating status, a highly-coveted role for any contractor to secure.”

Wates began a significant programme of enabling works on the site in October, which also includes scoping surveys to inform the design and prepare for the main works which are due to start on site in May 2022.

Christine Lowry, Partner, Buro Happold , said: “We’re delighted to be part of the Boston Spa project working alongside Wates Construction, Carmody Groarke and the British Library.

“The project will set a new standard for environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, demonstrating how both building new and revitalising the old will provide a sustainable future for the British Library.”

The British Library aims to open its new spaces at Boston Spa by 2026.

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