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The State Library Victoria Has Finally Unveiled Its $88.1 Million Transformation

From today, you can explore the new-and-improved library in full — which features new quarters and 70 percent more seats.
By Libby Curran
December 05, 2019
By Libby Curran
December 05, 2019

They say great things take time and, as you can imagine, the State Library Victoria's huge $88.1 million makeover counts as one of those things. Dubbed Vision 2020, the redevelopment project has been almost five years in the making — and you can get your first proper look from today, Thursday, December 5, as the site opens to the public to show off its full suite of changes.

Along with its brand-new look, Australia's oldest public library now boasts an extra 40 percent more public space, as well as a 70 percent boost in seating. Which means it'll be a whole lot easier to nab yourself a table and hit the books. And of course, without its scaffolding that has seemingly been up forever, that grand facade is now looking a much better backdrop for hangs on the iconic front lawn.

Swanston St Foyer by Patrick Rodriguez

The 163-year-old building now comes armed with a suite of new features and services, with the crowning glory a striking new Swanston Street entrance, sporting a modern foyer and plenty of digital upgrades. The library's many spaces have been refurbished and reimagined for public use. The original heritage reading room has been transformed into The Ian Potter Queen's Hall, to be used as a library space by day and an events space by night. Hansen Hall will be a multi-functional space for meetings and projects, and, courtesy of the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation, October saw the launch of a new exhibition space known as the Victoria Gallery.

The building has also been divided into newly named quarters. If you're a small business owner, you'll want to make use of StartSpace in the Ideas Quarter, a new service featuring co-working spaces, business-oriented meet-up events and free support for start-ups, born with the support of the Christine Christian Foundation. Meanwhile, the new Conversation Quarter is somewhere you might also find yourself, attending lectures, conferences and workshops.

Conversation Quarter by Patrick Rodriguez

The other two quarters are aimed at budding young minds — a program of talks and events will take place in the schools-focused Create Quarter, while the Pauline Gandel Children's Quarter is specifically for families and children.

Australasian design firm Architectus, along with Scandinavia's Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, have headed up the multi-million dollar build. The massive project has been funded with a mix of donations, public contributions and support from the Victorian Government.

The State Library Victoria will reopen to the public today — Thursday, December 5 — at 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne. It's open from 10am–9pm Monday to Thursday, and 10am–6pm Friday to Sunday.

Images: Patrick Rodriguez.

Published on December 05, 2019 by Libby Curran


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