2002 – Ussher Library, Trinity College Dublin

Architect: McCullough Mulvin / KMD Architecture


The Ussher Library is sited between the Berekely Library and Nassau Street with the park and the Arts Block on either side. The new building is the result of a competition won by the collaborating project from McCullough Mulvin and KMD Architecture (formerly Keane Murphy Duff).

Between the Berkeley and James Ussher libraries a new podium plaza has been created, an addition to the college’s existing wealth of enclosed open spaces. The surface of this space is broken by two interventions – a mature tree and a glass pyramid providing light to the concourse beneath – both of which are mirrored on a similar raised terrace located on the building’s Nassau Street side.

The interior atrium is expressed externally by the glass volume that penetrated the building and which is visible in the shot across the College Park above. While not yet complete, the final building will be accessed by students through the Berekely Library, and the general public will be able to access a new visitor centre directly from Nassau Street.

The interior of the Library is dominated by the atrium than spans the height of the building from the basement Journals Room through to the top – 8 storeys in all. Off this are the book stacks and the reading areas. The top floor reading areas overlook the College Park with the majority of the book stacks on the Arts Block side of the building. Glass-fronted balconies open on to the atrium from every level, permitting both light and air to circulate freely through the entire space.

The two lowest levels are the Journals Room and a Mezzanine Level which is for storage and accessed only by Librarians. The reading area of the Journals Room is double height and lit by circular roof lights which can be seen externally here.

Throughout the building, the walls are exposed concrete, however the areas immediately around the atrium from first floor level upwards are clad with a smooth finished timber giving a sheen to the atrium.