23 June 2016
The Weston Library has been named as one of the winners of the 2016 RIBA National Awards, which are the most rigorous and prestigious awards for new buildings in the UK.
The Weston Library, which is part of the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries, was one of 42 projects across the UK selected for the awards, which are granted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Winners were selected from projects that had been awarded regional RIBA Awards earlier this year. In April, the Weston Library won a RIBA South Regional Award as well as the overall award: RIBA South Building of the Year 2016.
The Weston Library opened to the public in March 2015 following a dramatic, three-year transformation by Wilkinson Eyre architects. The refurbishment transformed the 1930s listed building, originally designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, into a new cultural and intellectual landmark that has proved hugely popular with everyone from local residents and tourists to scholars at Oxford and from around the world.
Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian
'It is wonderful that the Weston Library has earned this prestigious honour from the Royal Institute of British Architects,' said Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian. 'Wilkinson Eyre's masterful and innovative transformation of Gilbert Scott's Grade II listed building has created a stunning space where visitors and scholars can explore the Bodleian's historic collections.'
RIBA judges said that 'WilkinsonEyre has achieved a masterpiece' and notes that 'the sheer "wow" factor when entering stops you in your tracks and is an immediate reminder of what the building is about.'
The renovated Library includes study rooms, reading rooms, a Visiting Scholars Centre and a Centre for Digital Scholarship, and also welcomes members of the public to its two exhibition spaces, a lecture theatre, café and shop. This world-class facility has been fully open for over a year and has already received over 900,000 visitors. It was formally opened by HRH the Duke of Cambridge last month.
Almost a quarter of this year's RIBA National Award-winners were university and college buildings, and the Weston Library was one of three University of Oxford buildings to earn this honour. The other award-winning projects at the University were the new Blavatnik School of Government designed by Herzog & de Meuron and the Investcorp Building at St Anthony's College designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid.
The 46 buildings that have been awarded RIBA National Awards will now be entered into the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK's best building of the year, which will be announced on 14 July 2016.
This latest honour for the Weston Library follows a number of accolades. Earlier this month, it won the Architects' Journal's 2016 Building of the Year award and in 2015 the building won an Oxford Preservation Trust Award. It has been shortlisted for several awards, including the Architects' Journal Retrofit Awards, which will be announced on 14 September. In 2015, it was shortlisted for the Building Magazine Project of the Year (2015) and the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award.