Fiat Lux – Reimagining the McGill Library


When Redpath Hall, McGill’s first dedicated library, was originally built, the words “FIAT LUX” adorned the entablature above the entrance. These words, Latin for “let there be light,” embody the concept of illumination as knowledge, a motto as timely today on the cusp of McGill’s bicentennial anniversary as it was when the words were first carved into the limestone of Redpath Hall.

Now, those words have once again come to symbolize the scholarly significance of the Library as it evolves to meet the evolving needs of 21st century students. Technological advancements have radically altered the mandate of libraries, and as user needs undergo a radical shift, the McGill Library and Archives is facing a severe seating and space crunch, jeopardizing the academic potential of the University’s world-class students.

Generously supported by the Friends of the Library, Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light is the culmination of an exhaustive planning process to match McGill’s 21st century needs. It proposes a newly reimagined McLennan-Redpath complex, a prudent but ambitious, flexible but flowing facility that will allow the students, faculty and researchers to meet their scholarly potential. Following the best practices of peer institutions, this redesigned site features an Automated Storage and Retrieval System installed under McGill’s lower field, allowing critical floor space to be rededicated to student solo and group study areas.

The Feasibility Study also features the rebuilding of the Redpath Library Building, recreating it as a jewel of McGill’s downtown campus. The entire building would be linked by a generous grand staircase, spanning from the Cyberthèque and café on the street level; through bustling 24/7 teaching, learning, collaboration and study spaces adjacent to the popular outdoor terraces; past a stepped forum where lectures and projections would punctuate a McGill day; and up to an iconic reading room with views to Redpath Hall, the campus and Mount Royal.

In matching McGill’s international reputation, the reimagined Library embraces the architectural beauty of the past, integrates the evolving needs of today and prepares for the technological advancements of the future.

Let There Be Light!

For more information, including artist renderings and a detailed Master Plan of the project, please visit the Fiat Lux website.

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