The redevelopment is part of SLV’s Vision 2020, which sought to respond to the changing needs of the Library’s growing community. Vision 2020 will deliver a 70% increase in seating and a 40% increase in public space.
New spaces will be opened, including Ian Potter Queen’s Hall, which was the SLV’s original reading room. The resplendent heritage space will serve as a reading room during the day and an events venue at night.
Hansen Hall will provide a vibrant collaborative space for users to meet, work and connect. Ideas Quarter will be home to a new service, StartSpace, and will also function as a dedicated co-working space for small businesses and early stage start-ups.
Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter will be a purpose-built space for children and families to read, learn and play while Create Quarter will contain spaces for school programs and group work. Create Quarter will also have a line-up of pop-up talks and events.
The redevelopment will also include a new world-class exhibition space, Victoria Gallery, which will open on the 24th of October. Conversation Quarter will be a state-of-the-art public forum for lectures, conferences and workshops.
As part of the transformation, the Swanston Street entrance will be revitalised, and will include a new foyer with digital technology to keep visitors up to date with what’s on at the Library. The Quad, located on the ground floor of the SLV, will connect all four of the SLV’s activity courtyards, and will contain an information centre at its core.
Sarah Slade, the acting CEO of the SLV, is excited for the SLV’s approaching milestone.
“For 163 years, the Library has been a democratic place for people of all ages and backgrounds to gather, learn and grow,” said Ms Slade.
Ms Slade thanked the Victorian Government, the SLV’s donors and the public for their incredible support, stating that without them the redevelopment would not be possible: “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.”
Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley MP said that there is plenty for Victorians and visitors to look forward to, adding that, “[the] State Library redevelopment project has transformed it into a library of the future,” with its suite of new programs, exhibitions, activities and services, as well as its “magnificently redeveloped spaces”.
Vision 2020 was a collaboration between Australasian design firm Architectus and Danish-based Schmidt Hammer Lassen. These two firms have already worked together to design the Christchurch New Central Library. Construction work is being carried out by Built, who has extensive experience in complex heritage refurbishment. Built has recently signed an agreement with Liverpool City Council to develop Liverpool Civic Place.
$60.4m of the $88.1m Vision 2020 project was funded by the Victorian Government, while the remainder was raised through philanthropic support. This included the public and six major donors – The Ian Potter Foundation, John and Myriam Wylie Foundation, Maria Myers AC and Allan Myers AC QC, Christine Christian Foundation, The Hansen Little Foundation, and Gandel Philanthropy.
The Russell Street entrance and welcome zone, completed as part of Stage 1 of Vision 2020, along with the La Trobe Reading Room, Dome Galleries, Redmond Barry Reading Room, Cowen Gallery, and the North and South Rotundas will remain open to the public.
Cover Image: The Ian Potter Queen’s Hall will be reopened after being closed for 15 years. The refurbishment in this space focused on revealing the original heritage space, including peeling off layers of paint to expose the original 1860s paint scheme. (Image: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects)