Radcliffe Science Library redevelopment
Radcliffe Science Library redevelopment

Radcliffe Science Library redevelopment

A shared home for study and research

The Radcliffe Science Library building is located on the corner of Parks Road and South Parks Road in the Oxford University Science Area, which is also within the city’s Central Conservation Area. In 2020 an extensive refurbishment programme was launched in order to modernise library facilities, create a home for the new Reuben College, and establish a new Museum Collections Teaching and Research Centre. The programme is expected to continue in phased stages over a period of approximately two years.

About the project

Find out about what is happening in the Radcliffe Science Library

The Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) site is being redeveloped to create modern library facilities open to all Bodleian readers. This will include spaces for communal dining, collaboration, exhibitions and public events, as well as a Museums Collections Centre to facilitate collections-based teaching, research and engagement. In addition, the new graduate society, known as Reuben College, will be integrated into these refurbishment plans for the building, creating a new research and social community for graduate students and academic fellows of Reuben College.

The building includes the Jackson Wing, built in 1901, and Worthington Wing, built in 1934, and a large basement beneath the Library’s courtyard and the front lawn of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The redevelopment of the site will also include the adjoining buildings (the western wing of the Inorganic Chemistry Lab and Abbot’s Kitchen) and their connecting spaces.

As part of the redevelopment project, the two-storey RSL basement will be converted into a Museums Collections Teaching & Research Centre, which will have high quality storage facilities for museum collections, as well as a suite of shared, flexible spaces for teaching and public engagement activities.

The aim of refurbishing the rest of the building is to improve the usability, comfort, quality and layout of the library. This will create an accessible and modern space which provides group study facilities, informal discussion areas, and quiet study space, together with enhanced access to cutting-edge technology, digital resources and specialist library staff. As much of the space as possible will be shared so that both Reuben College and the science library can best make use of the building throughout the academic year.

The redevelopment programme of the RSL building and its adjoining buildings is provisionally scheduled for completion in 2022. 

Latest updates

17 January 2023 - update on the RSL refurbishment

How time flies! Back at the start of 2020 we packed up the Radcliffe Science Library (RSL) and started the refurbishment project. A lot has happened to us all in that time, but none the less great progress has been made to the refurbishment. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we took down the portraits, emptied the shelves and closed the doors. Visit the Bodleian Libraries Science and Medicine blog for further details.

25 April 2022 - update on the RSL redevelopment project

The construction work on the Radcliffe Science Library building and Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory is continuing after some delays during the Covid-19 pandemic. The library is now scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2023. Visit the Bodleian Libraries Science and Medicine blog for further details.

27 January 2021 - notice of pedestrian and cycleway diversions

Minor diversions for cyclists and pedestrians will be in place on Parks Road in front of the University Museum of Natural History from 8 February 2021 until approximately December 2021.

The diversions are necessary as part of the Radcliffe Science Library Redevelopment Project, which requires repairs and waterproofing works to the two-storey basement underneath the Museum Lawn. During these works, the footpath will be diverted to a new line on the grass verge, with a new tarmac surface. The cycleway will be suspended with cyclists directed to join the carriage way for approximately 60m between the Northern Museum Entrance from Parks Road to the current Southern Museum Entrance from Parks Road.

These diversions have been made by agreement with the County Council Highways Department, and appropriate signage and barriers will be erected to safely segregate and direct pedestrians and cyclists.

11 February 2020 - notice of imminent works

We have published an FAQ about works taking place on 23 February 2020 to remove three trees along Parks Road, as necessary for the waterproofing works on the basement. Please download our FAQ for further information and full details.

January 2020

The project is currently seeking tenders from the University’s three framework building contractors under a Two-Stage Design & Build contract. One of these contractors will be appointed under a Pre-contract Services Agreement (PCSA) to further develop the design with the project team before the Main Contract is let. The maintenance ‘Early Works’ to the basement will be tendered separately.

The construction project follows the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stages of work, which outlines all stages in the planning, design and building process, from conception to completion on site. The current timeline to completion is:

  • RIBA Stage 3 Developed Design, Sep 2019 – Jan 2020
  • RIBA Stage 4 Technical Design, Jan 2020 – May 2020
  • Vacant Possession, 14 April 2020
  • RIBA Stage 5 Maintenance Works, Mar – Dec 2020
  • RIBA Stage 5 Main Works, Sep 2020 – Sep 2021
  • Practical Completion, 27 Sep 2021
  • RIBA Stage 6 Handover and Close-Out, October 2021

Public information, consultation and feedback

Past events and consultations

4-5 October 2019 - A public consultation event was held in the Radcliffe Science Library to present the building project proposals, and invite comments and questions. 

21 June 2019 - A public information event about essential maintenance works required for the RSL basement was held at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Questions or comments on the project can be emailed to: [email protected]

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