Leeds University Library

One of UK's best new buildings

Published Saturday 2 July 2016

Photograph of the front of the Laidlaw Library

Laidlaw Library wins national award from RIBA

The Laidlaw Library has won a prestigious national award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The news comes just a few weeks after winning a regional RIBA award for excellent building design in Yorkshire.

Built to create thousands of new study spaces for University of Leeds students, the Laidlaw building has a contemporary design, but responds sensitively to the University of Leeds' industrial heritage.

"The finished building is an elegant and precise structure, sitting discreetly in its urban setting. The composition of old and new is a delight. Solid and void are combined to ensure that natural light and ventilation provide an environmentally responsible solution to the needs of users." writes RIBA.

University Chancellor and former South Bank Show presenter Melvyn Bragg called Laidlaw "a most beautiful contemporary building... with echoes of Athens and the stamp of the 21st century."

It is surrounded by listed buildings - two 18th-century churches and the modernist Parkinson Building - and a specially commissioned sculpture called 'Spire,' designed by internationally respected artist Simon Fujiwara.

Designed and built with sustainability in mind, Laidlaw Library is home to three beehives, and generates much of its own energy through solar panels.

The library has proved to be extremely popular with students, who can make use of three floors of elegant study space with plugs and computers. 

The new library is also home to group study rooms, adaptable study space for disabled students, the innovative Skills@Library service, core book collections for taught courses, and even a Caffè Nero coffee shop.