News / October 2018
Monday 8 October 2018
The State Library of NSW opens to the public

Following a master plan development for the future of the State Library of NSW, the HASSELL designed Mitchell Building refurbishment and Michael Crouch Family Galleries have opened to the public.

The master plan has a primary focus of upgrading the Level 1 Western Gallery, major demolition of redundant storage spaces and mezzanine levels to make way for newly created galleries, new amenities for public visitors and staff, as well as Disability Discrimination Act and accessibility upgrades throughout five levels of the heritage Mitchell Building.

HASSELL Senior Architect Jacqueline Bokor said it is rare to work on projects of this level of cultural significance and seeing people experience the changes is what design is all about.

“This project was all about reinvigorating a cultural icon in the heart of the Sydney CBD and returning over 1,500sqm of previously inaccessible and newly refurbished space back to the public,” Jacqueline said.

“At HASSELL we are all about designing places people love, and it was evident at the public open day that revealing and reinterpreting the history of the Mitchell Building has helped continually grow this love for the State Library of NSW.” she said.

To support the growing visitor population to the Library and provide for world-class exhibitions, the existing Mitchell Building has undergone a major reconfiguration of the building circulation and access.

The new circulation elements, extending from the sub-basement level up to the accessible roof level, were designed to reconnect and reinvigorate the Mitchell Building interiors.

A key element of the reconfiguration is the addition of new functional and legible vertical and horizontal circulation to serve the public spaces and operational requirements for the library and exhibition staff. The upgrade includes new goods and passengers lifts, a new major public staircase, and a review and replanning of Building Code and Disability Discrimination Act compliance including the Fire Compartmentation Strategy, modifications for existing fire stairs, and various other upgrades in the building.

“The heritage of the building meant that work was required to maintain its ability to manage the flow of guests and staff. This posed both challenging and exciting opportunities, in particular the new staircase that acts as a feature element but also practically assisting in way finding for the public facilities distributed throughout the Mitchell Building.” Jacqueline said.

As hosts of significant travelling international and local exhibition content, the State Library of NSW Mitchell Galleries were a key focus of the Mitchell Refurbishment Project. Previously store rooms and offices, the new Michael Crouch Family Galleries provides universally flexible and adaptable exhibition spaces, doubling the current public exhibition area for the State Library of NSW.

HASSELL has also been involved in a number of other projects for the Library, including the recent refurbishment of the heritage Dixson Wing, designing and constructing the Sir William Dixson Research Library, Fellows Room and Collection store.

Images: Guy Wilkinson Photography

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