After almost five years, the State Library Victoria has announced it will open the doors on its $88.1 million renovation on December 5.
The project set out to increase public space by 40 per cent and was headed by Australasian design firm Architectus in collaboration with Scandinavian firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. Construction was carried out by Built, which has experience in complex heritage refurbishments.
The redevelopment, labelled Vision 2020, responded to the changing needs of what is Australia’s oldest and busiest library.
“For 163 years, the Library has been a democratic place for people of all ages and backgrounds to gather, learn and grow,” says State Library Victoria Acting CEO Sarah Slade.
“People are at the heart of everything we do and we’re delighted that a new generation of visitors – be they children, students, creatives, researchers or entrepreneurs – will have access to a range of world-leading spaces and offerings in our transformed library.”
Highlights of the project include 70 per cent more seating, a revitalised Swanston Street entrance, the transformation of the heritage Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, which will act as a reading room by day an opulent events venue by night, and the creation of Victoria Gallery, a brand new exhibition space set to open on October 24.
Creatives can also look forward to a handful of new spaces. The Ideas Quarter will be a dedicated co-working space for early stage start ups and small businesses, the Conversation Quarter is set to become a state-of-the-art public forum for lectures, conferences and workshops, and the Create Quarter will host a calendar of pop-up talks and events.
Families will also have their own dedicated space to read, learn and play in the Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter.
The Victorian Government provided $60.4 million of the $88.1 million spent on Vision 2020, with the remainder raised through philanthropic support.
The Russell Street entrance and accompanying new spaces opened in the first stage of Vision 2020, as well as the La Trobe Reading Room, Dome Galleries, Redmond Barry Reading Room, Cowen Gallery, and the North and South Rotundas all remain open to the public.