Makeover for world's first Carnegie library named Scotland's best building

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A multi-million pound expansion of the world’s first Andrew Carnegie library has earned it the coveted title of Scotland’s building of the year.

Architect Richard Murphy has been honoured for the £12.4 transformation of the historic facility in the tycoon’s home town in Fife.

The building is an extension of the world's first Andrew Carnegie library and acts as a museum for Dunfermline

The building is an extension of the world's first Andrew Carnegie library and acts as a museum for Dunfermline

New exhibition spaces, research facilities, a children’s library a cafe-bar and a landscaped garden were added to the Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.

The project, which took around 12 years to bring to fruition, was chosen ahead of the 11 other contenders for the £25,000 Doolan Prize, which is run by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

They included the National Theatre of Scotland’s new headquarters in Glasgow, a conversion of a former shepherd’s cottage in Wester Ross, new school buildings and a student housing development in Aberdeen.

The judging panel said: “In 2007 Richard Murphy Architects won a competition for a major new cultural hub in Dunfermline’s historic centre.

The 12.4 million transformation of Dunfermline's museum took 12 years to bring to fruition.

The 12.4 million transformation of Dunfermline's museum took 12 years to bring to fruition.

“The new building is organised along a top-lit internal street, criss-crossed by bridges.

“To provide access, an adjacent car park was redesigned as a walled garden leading to an entrance courtyard. External materials are sandstone, oak and steel, acknowledging the town’s industrial heritage and the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, after whom the building is named.

“Internally, the new spaces connect with the existing library’s reference rooms, repurposed as events spaces.

“At the lower level, the local history reading room is organised in three tiers. The children’s library opens directly onto the garden. On the floor above, the café’s terraces offer views over the Abbey. Above is a double-level, barrel-vaulted museum and three flexible art galleries.

“The circulation ‘architectural promenade’ offers key views of significant historic buildings, culminating in a cube window framing views of the Dunfermline Abbey.”

Dunfermline’s library was the first of more than 2500 to be built with money donated by the Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist, who led the expansion of the US steel industry in the late 19th century.

The grade-B listed library building, which sits in the heart of Dunfermline’s heritage quarter, has been left largely unaltered by the project, which has created the first proper museum facility to showcase Dunfermline’s historic collections.