British Library announces partnership to extend its iconic London building

British Library at St Pancras site and surroundings, including (centre) the British Library, (right) St Pancras station, (top) the Francis Crick Institute. Photo by Ian Hay.

The British Library has selected a consortium led by property developer Stanhope, working with architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, as preferred partner for a project to develop a 2.8 acre site to the north of its Grade I Listed building at St Pancras in London as a major new centre for commerce, knowledge and research. 

At the heart of the development will be 100,000 sq ft of new British Library spaces for learning, exhibitions and public use, including a new northern entrance and a bespoke headquarters for the Alan Turing Institute, the national centre for data science research.

The development will also include new commercial space for organisations and companies that wish to be located at the heart of London's Knowledge Quarter, close to the Francis Crick Institute and the other knowledge-based companies, research organisations, amenities and transport links located at King’s Cross and St Pancras.

The Stanhope consortium was appointed following a Competitive Dialogue procurement process that began in late 2015.

Stanhope have 30 years’ experience of developing complex central London projects, including Broadgate, Paternoster Square and the Tate Modern Switch House building. Stanhope are backed by strong financial partners and current projects include the regeneration of Television Centre, White City. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners are well-known for buildings such as the Grade I Listed Lloyds Building and the recent British Museum extension.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley said: “The British Library is one of our finest cultural institutions, housing an unparalleled collection of knowledge. This innovative project will increase access to the Library’s first-class collections, providing new exhibition spaces, learning opportunities and facilities for visitors from Britain and around the world to enjoy. It is a significant commitment to digital research and data science, and I am pleased the expansion will provide a bespoke headquarters for the Alan Turing Institute.”

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “This new development alongside the Francis Crick Institute will be another gem in the crown of London’s Knowledge Quarter, and an ideal location for commercial and life-sciences investment in an area already synonymous with pioneering thinking and Britain’s leadership in research. Our Industrial Strategy will support the development of projects like this to ensure the UK has the environment and skills we need to maintain our position at the forefront of innovation.”

Deputy Mayor for Business, Greater London Authority, Rajesh Agrawal, said: “This is another exciting development for London’s flourishing Knowledge Quarter, our world-leading life sciences sector and our rapidly growing reputation for data science. It is a huge vote of confidence in the capital post-Brexit. London is one of the greatest scientific cities on the planet. We are internationally renowned as a bastion of research and innovation and one of the most attractive places in the world for life and data science companies to do business.

“This new investment, just a stone’s throw from the Francis Crick Institute is another huge boost to London’s  role as a global capital of science and innovation.  As well as leading to world-changing discoveries, products and services it will deliver new jobs and demonstrate that London is Open to the world’s greatest scientific minds.”

The development project is a key part of the British Library's Living Knowledge vision to become ever more open, creative and innovative in the delivery of its purposes. The objectives of this development include:

  • More exhibition spaces, increasing public access to the Library's vast world-class collections;
  • New facilities for learners of all ages, with expanded programmes for schools, colleges, families, adult learners and local communities;
  • Improved public areas and accessibility, with more places to sit and study;
  • An enhanced offering for business users, building on the success of the Library's Business & IP Centre;
  • A new northern entrance close to the Francis Crick Institute and the main St Pancras Station concourse.
  • A permanent home for the Alan Turing Institute, the UK national centre for data science;
  • Flexible accommodation for third-party companies, institutions and research organisations seeking to work at the heart of the Knowledge Quarter;
  • Environmental improvements including enhanced East-West connectivity for local people walking between Somers Town and St Pancras.

HM Treasury and the Library’s sponsor department, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have approved the Full Business Case for the project. The Development Agreement with Stanhope is to be finalised this summer, with the design and planning process – including close working with Camden Council, local communities and other neighbours and stakeholders, and an agreed solution to accommodating Crossrail 2 requirements into the development – taking place over the next 18 months.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: “We are delighted to have secured such high-calibre partners to help realise our vision of the British Library's London campus as a truly open, creative centre for knowledge. Sir Colin St John Wilson's Grade I Listed building was one of the great public projects of the last century, and this new partnership will help us to preserve and respect its unique character while creating much-needed extra space both for our growing public audiences and the dynamic research communities in London's Knowledge Quarter.”

David Camp, Chief Executive of Stanhope, said: “This project is unique in its vision to link the British Library and the Francis Crick Institute with an enhanced Alan Turing Institute, knowledge and commercial organisations and additional library facilities. In partnership with the British Library, we look forward to engaging with all of the key stakeholders to realise that vision.”

Graham Stirk, Senior Partner at RSHP, said: “RSHP is very proud to be involved in assisting the British Library to achieve its vision to create a more open and accessible campus that will maintain its prominence for the future. We look forward to working as part of a wider team to support and enhance the Library’s position within this exciting and evolving international centre of knowledge in the heart of London.”


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Notes to Editors

Stanhope is a multi-skilled property developer that creates new urban places and well-crafted workspace, homes, leisure and retail accommodation as well as cultural buildings. With over 30 years’ experience of working in partnership with communities, landowners, investors, occupiers, designers and contractors, Stanhope are experts in assembling, leading and challenging expert teams to get the best results for all parties. Stanhope manage the development process from identification of new opportunities, feasibility and purchase through design and planning, funding, procurement, delivery and aftercare. Stanhope has delivered over 70 projects comprising c. 25 million sq ft in total with c. 4 million sq ft currently under construction and secured projects comprising c. 12 million sq ft.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) is an award-winning, international architectural practice based in London. The practice’s previous experience building in the culture sector extends all the way back to the Centre Pompidou. More recently, the practice completed the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre extension to the British Museum in 2014, and is currently working on the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, and a new conservation centre for the Musée du Louvre at Lievin.

The Knowledge Quarter (KQ) is a partnership of 80 academic, cultural, research, scientific and media organisations located in a one-mile radius around King’s Cross, Euston Road and Bloomsbury. Collectively, the geographic area of the Knowledge Quarter contains possibly the greatest knowledge cluster anywhere in the world. The KQ’s partners range from internationally significant research institutes to emerging organisations in the creative industries. Partners include the British Museum, the University of the Arts London, Google, the Digital Catapult, Wellcome Trust, The Guardian and the British Library. The partners might be vastly different, but all share one common purpose: the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

For more information:

Ben Sanderson
The British Library
t: +44 (0)1937 546 126

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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.