Wates secures key pre-construction role on ground-breaking British Library project

Wates Construction secures key pre-construction role on ground-breaking British Library project
Home News Wates secures key pre-construction role on ground-breaking British Library project

Wates secures key pre-construction role on ground-breaking British Library project

Wates has been appointed as pre-construction stage partner on the ambitious and ground-breaking redevelopment of the British Library site at Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

The 45-week PCSC (pre-construction services consultant) role will see Wates working alongside the client’s design team up to RIBA Stage 4 with services engineer, Buro Happold and London-based, architectural practice, Carmody Groarke.

The scheme involves the construction of a new 28m high, 5274m2 ground-breaking, fully automated net zero carbon archive building which will feature a public viewing gallery and 220km of extra shelf space together with an extensive renovation of the nearby 1970s Brutalist-style Urquhart Building for the library’s 550 on-site staff, including a new reading room, restaurant and café for visitors.

Sustainability will be an integral feature of this ambitious programme, including the creation of new and improved green spaces to support biodiversity and enhance the natural environment surrounding the site.

Working in close collaboration with its design team partners, Wates will work with its supply chain to help develop the design and accurately cost the project so that at the end of the 45-week period the final contract price can be agreed.

During this early phase, the contractor will also use its tried and tested approach to creating airtight buildings by constructing large-scale prototypes. These will be used to test the design theories needed to fulfil the exacting sustainability criteria – in the case of the new build, to achieve BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ and Passivhaus Accredited ratings, while the renovated Urquhart Building has been designed to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’.

This is a significant milestone for our Boston Spa site, which will transform the accessibility of our collections and services to people nationally.

We look forward to working with our design team to deliver vital facilities that will support the growth of the national collection and open up access to a new generation of visitors.”

Phil Spence

Chief Operating Officer, British Library

We are delighted with our appointment. We know from past projects that the most critical success factors when constructing airtight buildings are genuine partnership and teamwork, for which Wates has a proven track record. 

This project will set the standard for facilities of this type worldwide. 

Nothing like this archive has been built in the UK before, where the environment is completely airtight, and when complete, a fully automated racking and robotics system will be used to retrieve documents.

It is both a fascinating and challenging project to work on, requiring cutting edge sustainable design solutions, and given its novel, world-beating status, a highly-coveted role for any contractor to secure.”

David Wingfield

Regional Director North East, Wates Construction

In a second appointment, Wates began a significant programme of enabling works on the site in October, which also includes scoping surveys to inform the design and prepare for the main works which are due to start on site in May 2022.

We’re delighted to be part of the Boston Spa project working alongside Wates, Carmody Groarke and the British Library.

The project will set a new standard for environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, demonstrating how both building new and revitalising the old will provide a sustainable future for the British Library.”

Christine Lowry

Partner, Buro Happold

The British Library aims to open its new spaces at Boston Spa by 2026.