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Sir Duncan Rice Library celebrates Tenth Anniversary

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

University of Aberdeen marks a decade of the building’s presence on campus.


By Olivia Mackenzie Smith

courtesy of Aedan Brennan


Originally conceived in 2005 when the University held an international design competition, the nine-story square cubic library replaced the Queen Mother Library as the main academic library on campus. The plans were designed by Danish architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen with construction completed in 2011 by Caithness Stones Industries.


It was initially named the Aberdeen University New Library but the name was changed to the Sir Duncan Rice Library in honour of the university’s influential former principal, leaving the Sir Duncan Rice Library as we know it to be opened on 24 September 2012 by Queen Elizabeth II.

Morten Schmidt, founding partner of Schmidt Hammer Lassen, said of the library when it first opened, ‘[it] functions as a meeting place and a cultural centre for the students of the University as well as the Aberdeen community. The façade of the building shimmers during the day and glows softly at night, creating a luminous landmark – a beacon – for the city of Aberdeen,’ while Chris Banks, then University Librarian and Director described it as ‘a bold and affirmative statement from the University. It says “We mean business” and it also says “you are welcome here”.’


Simon Bains, current University Librarian commented: ‘On the tenth anniversary of its royal opening, the Sir Duncan Rice Library continues to be a shining example of the highest standard of academic library architecture. It is often very literally shining, as the façade was designed to make it shimmer in the day, and glow softly at night.’


‘It is often said that its library sits at the heart of a university, and Aberdeen has a library which really does that, attracting students, academics and the public, as well as the many groups who make use of our bookable meeting rooms on the seventh floor with their fantastic views.’

‘It is often said that its library sits at the heart of a university, and Aberdeen has a library which really does that...'

“But after ten years we have ambition to do more and so we are reviewing the building and exploring how we can provide more and better services for a diverse range of people. We are asking ourselves: how do different people use the building? What do students want from their visit to the Library? How can we make it more welcoming to the local public? We are now planning to make improvements on all nine floors, from the lower ground (Special Collections) all the way to the top!

“The University of Aberdeen has one of the most remarkable library buildings anywhere in the world, and we should all take great pride in it. I would be delighted to hear from any student with suggestions for making it even better, as we think about the next ten years.”




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