Fitzwilliam College Library Cambridge, Architect, Building, Photos, Architecture, Design

Fitwilliam College Library, Cambridge, southeast England

Fitzwilliam College Building, Cambridge University, UK – design by Edward Cullinan Architects

20 Apr 2010

Fitwilliam College Library Building

Edward Cullinan Architects’ Fitzwilliam College Library opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

Designed by Edward Cullinan Architects, the new Library and IT Centre at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, was officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, Chancellor of the University, on Monday 19th April, 2010.

The new Library, opened to students earlier in the spring, extends and complements the east wing of the 1959 Denys Lasdun College masterplan to create an ideal place for study that reflects the peaceful landscape, respecting and enhancing the adjacent architecture.

Fitwilliam College Library Building Fitwilliam College Library
photos : Simon Feneley

The east façade, apse at the southeast and focal ‘reader tower’ are clad in dark brick to continue the range of Lasdun’s building. To the south of the reader tower the west façade is clad in European oak boards, complementing the brickwork of The Grove, a Grade-II listed building built on the site in 1813.

The main library reading rooms are on three floors with books located in the centre of each, and reader spaces positioned around the perimeter to maximise the use of daylight and views over the college gardens. A variety of study spaces have been created, all with flexibility for IT network connections via an accessible raised floor. The concertina of the west facing timber elevation affords workstations with natural side-light for study and short term computer use.

Already an integral part of the College, the space has been heralded as a great success by those using it.

Christopher Pratt, Bursar of Fitzwilliam 1993–2009, comments “Not every project comes in on time and within budget. Few do so with excellent working relationships throughout the inevitable challenges. What makes the Fitzwilliam Library and IT Centre truly exceptional is that not only is the foregoing true of it, but its design and its build quality are of the very highest standard. This is a real tribute to all those involved from conception to completion. A further tribute is that the users of the building are delighted with it, students having their favourite places and finding their studies inspired by them.”

Fitzwilliam College Library Building, Cambridge images / information received 200410


Edward Cullinan Architects is an award-winning practice based in London, UK, founded by Ted Cullinan in 1965.

Edward Cullinan Architects is a practice that has maintained a strong commitment to innovation and sustainability throughout its 45-year history. The core ethos driving the practice is that a successful building is one that responds thoughtfully and gracefully to a client’s needs, both now and in the future, and to the context, whether urban or rural. The practice operates as a co-operative, which gives it an unusual flexibility to respond effectively to client’s demands. Working in a single studio maximizes inter-project understanding and to facilitate the easy adjustment of the project teams as their needs ebb and flow.

In 2008, Ted Cullinan was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal for four decades of inspirational practice and teaching, and for generating compelling and poetic architecture that employs a highly original and inventive approach. In 2010 the practice was a finalist for both Building Awards’ Architectural Practice of the Year and Public Building of the Year (John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh).


Fitzwilliam College is a dynamic, international community committed to developing the talents of all its students. It is one of the 31 colleges of the University and is now a large community with around 475 undergraduates, 275 graduate students and over 60 Fellows.
Fitzwilliam started life in 1869 as a non-collegiate institution, specifically to broaden access to Cambridge. It provided undergraduates unable to afford membership of a college with an opportunity to study at Cambridge, organising teaching from a handsome house opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum. In the second half of the twentieth century Fitzwilliam House, as it was then called, became Fitzwilliam College, moved to its current site and received its royal charter in 1966.

At the heart of its beautiful grounds is a fine Regency house once occupied by Emma Darwin. Most of its award-winning buildings date from the 1960s onwards, including some of the best student accommodation in Cambridge, a state-of-the-art auditorium and now a new Library & IT Centre.

Fitzwilliam College ; Edward Cullinan Architects

Location:Storey’s Way, Cambridge CB3 0DG

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