Queen's University Belfast, McClay Library

Belfast, Northern Ireland | 2009

A model of sustainable design, the new Library positions Queen's as an international leader in education and sustainability. In 2010 the Library was named the UK's most notable sustainable new building by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. It also received a "Very Good" rating under BREEAM, the UK's Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) roughly equivalent to LEED Silver certification. Natural light sensors and automatically operated windows reduce electricity consumption and a rainwater recycling system for greywater conserves water. A natural ventilation system throughout much of the building and the strategic use of chilled beams to cool classrooms and computer-intensive spaces significantly reduce energy costs.

To meet the needs of Queen's expanding enrollment the library has 2,000 reader places and houses 1.5 million volumes, including the University's special collections. Facilities include exhibition space, a cafe, and a language lab. Shepley Bulfinch designed the project in association with Robinson Patterson Partnership and Buro Happold Engineers.

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McClay Library - students' reflections
Queen's University Belfast - McClay Library
Flickr photo stream from Queen's


Shepley Bulfinch Team

Alexander Howe
Ronald Finiw
Carole Wedge
Malcolm Kent
Leigh Anne Jones
Jeanne Carey
Andre Kamili
Yael Getz Schoen
Aaron Wittkamper
Jiajia Wang
Victoria Wolff
Nadine Cole
Jordan Max
Steven Kosilla
Kenley Gard
Mima Leivi
Scott Lockwood
Kim Markert
Hannah Carlton
Susan Laferriere
Elizabeth Donaldson
Melissa Brady



  • Commendation, 2011 UK Civic Trust Awards
  • 2010

  • 2010 National Sustainability Award, [UK] Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

View awards list »

The McClay Library has revolutionised the student and staff experience. It has exceeded its key objective, which was to build a central high-quality Library in one location that provides a seamless range of service and user support. It blends the best features of a traditional library with the latest 21st century leanring technologies to accommodate a whole spectrum of study, from quiet, individual scholarly pursuit to dynamic, participative group activities.

- Gary Jebb, Director of Estates, Queen's University Belfast

©2017 Shepley Bulfinch