The University of Manchester

Go-Ahead Given for £7.6m Revamp of Manchester’s Neo-Gothic Jewel

The City Council of Manchester has given the green light to a £7.6 million plan to transform the renowned John Rylands Research Institute and Library. Led by the esteemed architects at Donald Insall Associates, the proposed designs aim to modernize the building while preserving its historical charm and improving access to its impressive collection of Special Collections and research facilities. The project, known as John Rylands Next Chapter, is part of the Library’s Imagine2030 vision and will include a revamped exhibition space, an advanced imaging laboratory, a flexible event space, and a refreshed main entrance. The Grade I-listed Rylands, a magnificent neo-Gothic building, has stood the test of time and witnessed significant historical events, making it one of Manchester’s most treasured landmarks. Throughout the redevelopment process, the library is expected to remain open, with certain areas closing temporarily. Professor Christopher Pressler, the John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library, expressed his pride in leading such a remarkable institution that will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2025. He believes that the Next Chapter project will equip the Rylands to face the challenges of the 21st century while preserving its global significance. Rory Chisholm, Associate Architect at Donald Insall Associates, highlighted the importance of creating a design that respects the building’s architectural history while enhancing visitor experiences. The proposed interventions will pay homage to the dark patina of the historic structure while incorporating modern elements, such as a striking new entrance made of curved metal wings. Pippa Nissen, Director at Nissen Richards Studio, emphasized the goal of creating an engaging environment that showcases the library’s collection within its historic setting. The design will reinstate symmetry and optimize viewing conditions, creating a truly accessible display gallery at the heart of the visitor experience. Overall, the approved plans for the John Rylands Research Institute and Library promise to elevate its research capabilities, enrich the student experience, and enhance public engagement.

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