News archive 2003
King’s takes part in the London Open House Weekend15 Sep 2003, PR 66/03
London as a living architecture exhibition: 20 - 21 September
The London Open House weekend is a unique event that takes place across the capital over one weekend each September, providing free public access to hundreds of buildings of architectural and community interest to Londoners. The King’s College London Maughan Library will be taking part for the second year. The library recently won the 2003 City Heritage Award for the most outstanding conservation project in the City of London.
The Maughan Library, officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen last November, is a magnificent building widely regarded as a masterpiece of neo-gothic architecture. It has undergone a £35 million, two-year transformation creating what is believed to be the largest new university library facility in Britain since World War II.
Opening times: 1.30 pm – 5 pm (last admission 4.30 pm) on Saturday and Sunday
(The Library will not be open for use during this weekend)
The Maughan Library
Known as the Rolls Estate it is now home to the Maughan Library & Information Services Centre, part of the library provision for staff and students of King’s College London. Opened for use in September 2001, it has taken advantage of the splendid architecture and unusual features of the former Public Record Office building and incorporated into a modern university library setting.
The site has been occupied since 1232 when Henry III built a house here to provide refuge for the Jews who had converted to Christianity, known as the Domus Conversorum.
This Grade II* listed building was designed by Sir James Pennethorne, a former pupil of John Nash, and Sir John Taylor between 1851 and 1898. It was built in several stages, as can be seen from the varying stone colours of the exterior. It was known as the ‘strong box of the Empire’ as it housed the country’s public records, including the Domesday Book and Magna Carta in an almost fire-proof environment. Built soon after the fire at the Palace of Westminster in 1838, the materials used and the internal cellular structure aimed to minimise any damage that could be caused by fire.
The books and journals of four of the College’s ten schools: Humanities, Law, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Social Science & Public Policy are housed within the Library which has the capacity to hold 1.4 million volumes and support 7,000 students. Over 1,250 networked reader places and approximately 26km of shelving were installed during the conversion.
The College’s Special Collections and Rare Books, most of which are pre-1800, are also located within the Library in a purpose designed facility known as the Foyle Special Collections Library (in recognition of a grant from the Foyle Foundation).
The Maughan Library includes the former Rolls Chapel (now renamed the Weston Room following a donation from the Garfield Weston Foundation) with its stained glass windows depicting the armorial bearings of some of the 17th century Masters of the Rolls, and huge mosaic floor, discovered during the King’s refurbishment. In this room there are three monuments, including an important Renaissance terracotta figure by Pietro Torrigiano of Dr Yonge, Master of the Rolls, who died in 1516.
Within the building is also the fine Round Reading Room, based on that in the British Museum. Its domed ceiling is decorated with fibrous plaster Tudor roses and coronets together with stylized fleur-de-lys made in zinc and painted to look like wood: this was a new technology in 1863 but surviving examples are now extremely rare. This ceiling and the one in the entrance hall are thought to be the only surviving Victorian zinc ceilings in the UK.
The mezzanined study areas that now exist within the Maughan Library were created from self-contained cells, each 15 feet high with cast-iron grid floors and slate shelves mounted on cast-iron frames. More than 48km of heavy slate shelving was removed during building work, some of which has been used for signage around the building and in door reveals. New openings have been cut between cells, and between rooms and corridors, to ease circulation and to introduce light and a sense of space.
The Library has been named in honour of King’s graduate Sir Deryck Maughan and his wife, Lady Maughan, in recognition of their generous donation to its restoration.
Notes to editors
London Open House
London Open House aims to:
* foster public awareness and appreciation of London's excellent built environment and architecture through free access
* promote architectural literacy and further a better understanding of architecture and the public environment across all sections of the community, particularly with children and young people
* develop resources to enhance and encourage further knowledge and experience.
King’s College London
King’s is one of the oldest and largest colleges of the University of London with some 13,400 undergraduate students and some 5,000 postgraduates in ten schools of study. The College had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level. It is in the top group of five universities for research earnings and has an annual turnover of £320 million and research income from grants and contracts of some £90 million (2001-2002).
Melanie Gardner, Senior Public Relations Officer, King’s College London
Tel: 020-7848 3073 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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