Scottish Civic trust recognises “sanctuary for learning and research”

Thursday 2 April 2015

Martyrs Kirk Andrew Lee

The University of St Andrews, together with PagePark Architects of Glasgow, has received a commendation at the Scottish Civic Trust 2015 My Place Awards for the conversion of Martyrs Church to establish the Martyrs Kirk Research Library.

The renovation, which saw a much-loved local church sensitively transformed into a state-of-the art Research Library, was nominated by the St Andrews Preservation Trust.

The building now offers two reading rooms, a seminar room, over 5,000 volumes of research materials, 68 study seats, as well as a number of informal seats made out of re-used former pews from the church. Other original features which have been retained are the pulpit and the magnificent organ pipes.

The judges said:

“This redundant church conversion sets a benchmark for others to follow given the sensitivity and respect towards the architecture and its former purpose and traditions.  The university has created a beautiful space, with high-quality finishes, that laudably translates its past function for worship and prayer into a sanctuary for learning and research.

“This is an important and exemplar project which preserves and re-uses a former church building in an intelligent and considered way, benefiting the local academic community and enhancing the townscape of St Andrews.”

Graham Wynd, Chairman of the St Andrews Preservation Trust, said:

“We should like to congratulate the University on the Award; also to express our thanks to the University for this glorious and empathetic addition to the built heritage of St Andrews.  It has been an honour and a pleasure for the Trust to be associated with the Award entry and we are of course delighted that our combined efforts have obtained recognition.”

John MacColl, University Librarian, said:

“We are delighted to have received this award. The Martyrs Kirk Research Library represents a beautiful addition to the Library’s estate, and is one of the highlights for visitors to the University. It is more than just a showpiece, however, providing both a cherished silent space for researchers, and a much-needed new reading room for users of our wonderful Special Collections.”



The acquisition and renovation Martyrs Kirk was made possible by generous donations from supporters including: the Thomson family; Sir Ewan and Lady Brown; Mr Michael Buchanan; Mr George and Mrs Wendy David; Professor Louise Richardson and Dr Thomas Jevon; Mr Iain, Dr Catherine and Ms Lucy Ferguson; The Binks Trust; the New Park Educational Trust and the Eranda Foundation. The University also received a generous donation for the purposes of development and preservation of the University’s Special Collections from the Carnegie Corporation of New York as part of a challenge fund for the Martyrs Kirk appeal.

The University is delighted to have raised in excess of £1.5 million philanthropically in support of the Martyrs Kirk redevelopment project.

PagePark Architects of Glasgow were announced yesterday as the firm entrusted with the challenge of restoring the fire-ravaged Glasgow School of Art.

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