Former Swansea library spreads its wing with £8m overhaul
A BEAUTIFUL building in the heart of Swansea — opened by British Prime Minister William Gladstone — is set for a sleek new look.
The old Library on Alexandra Road has been bought by Swansea Metropolitan University. It is investing £8 million in its revamp.
The development, which includes a glazed wing, will become an international Institute of Sustainable Design. The project will involve the refurbishment and repair of the original building and its architectural features, as well as the creation of extra space and an exhibition area.
The former circular reading room — seen on TV in Doctor Who — will be refurbished and made accessible to the public. David Overment, director of estates at Swansea Met, said: "This is a prime example of Victorian architecture and conservation of its appearance is key to any development works.
"The university's intention is to return the building to its original glory in a modern context, creating a new and updated seat of learning.
"We'll retain the grandeur of the building's original facade, ensuring any new additions complement the original design."
The old library — opened in 1887 — was sold by Swansea Council last year. However, the library facility had been transferred to the seafront civic centre in 2007.
Since then the Victorian building has been home to the university's Swansea School of Glass. When finished, the University's School of Industrial Design, which offers programmes in product and automotive design, will also be located in the building. It will become an international centre for research and design focusing on automotive design, sustainable product design and architectural glass. The project is expected to be completed by September 2013.
Nick Bradley, Swansea Council's cabinet member for regeneration, said: "This is an exciting time for regeneration in the Alexandra Road area. Preparations for a multi-million pound upgrade of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery building are well underway and this project will lead to a facility of international quality in an historic building just across the road.
"The project perfectly illustrates how we can work in partnership in Swansea to protect our heritage while developing facilities befitting of the 21st Century. This will help further raise Swansea's profile as a leading city of learning."