The University of Manchester Library has won the Facilities Project category in the 2014 Guardian University Awards for its innovative and collaborative project, The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons.
Established in 2013, the Guardian University Awards recognise and reward working projects in universities that demonstrate innovation in the sector, collaborative delivery on the ground, and meaningful impact both inside their institutions and beyond, with the potential to inspire others.
The Facilities Project Award is given to a capital project that has positively enhanced the experiences of students and staff on campus.
At an award ceremony in London on 26 February, the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons was recognised as the best of a strong set of contenders within the category.
“We are delighted that all the hard work on this important project has been recognised with this award," said Jan Wilkinson, University Librarian. "Student involvement, from start to finish, has produced a building that really meets their needs," she said. "The successful implementation of this remarkable project stands out as an example of what can be achieved through wide-scale partnership between professionals across a large UK university."
The £24 million Learning Commons was conceived by former President and Vice Chancellor Professor Alan Gilbert, who sadly died just after his retirement in 2010. The building is a tribute to his vision.
Designed to give students a focal point for learning and offering a 24/7 environment for study, it boasts more than 1000 flexible study spaces and an range of equipment and furnishings for individual and group study.
There are 400 PCs, laptop charging lockers, 30 bookable group study rooms, Skype area and media screens for presentation and group work. The wifi available throughout the building extends to the space outside and to the ground floor café, which is open to the public. Managed by the University Library, a dedicated team of staff provide guidance and support.