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After five long years, the stunning £188.8 million Library of Birmingham has officially opened its doors to the public on Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

1 Library-of-Birmingham-Mecanoo

Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo and engineering consultancy firm Buro Happold, Britain’s largest public library replaces Birmingham’s Central Library with what is possibly the world’s most luxurious-looking structure that features a sunken amphitheater, “secret” rooftop gardens, and a beautiful filigree veil of interlocking metal rings over a gold and silver glass skin.

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Located in the heart of the city, the Library of Birmingham’s eye-catching metal lattice was designed in reference to Birmingham’s “interlocking stories of industrial heritage, jewellery, people and knowledge.

3 Library-of-Birmingham-Mecanoo

The new modernized design is a sharp contrast with its predecessor’s Brutalist concrete form, swapping the old inverted ziggurat design with four staggered rectangular volumes held within a shimmering glass façade.

4 Library-of-Birmingham-Mecanoo

Inside are ten floors: three of the main reading levels spiral out from a open rotunda, a focal point of the building; one floor is underground; the tenth is a rooftop rotunda housing the Shakespeare Memorial Room, designed in 1882.

5 Library-of-Birmingham-Mecanoo

A modern reincarnation of its predecessor the Central Library, the 35,000 square-meter Library of Birmingham commands a 20% larger footprint but with a 50% less demand for energy.

6 Library-of-Birmingham-Mecanoo

As a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated building, the library incorporates grey water systems and ground source heat pumps. Two outdoor garden terraces also attract biodiversity and help with carbon sequestration.

7 Library-of-Birmingham-Mecanoo

The state-of-the-art library will be integrated with the existing Birmingham REP Theatre, and will share many new facilities, including a 300 seat auditorium, meeting and conference rooms, as well as a café and restaurant.

8 Library-of-Birmingham-Mecanoo

Envisioned as the “social heart” of Birmingham, the new library will also offer 400,000 new books to an expected crowd of 3.5 million visitors a year.

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