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Wed July 28 2021

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Beard returns to St John's libraries

8 Jul Construction firm Beard is set to start work on the third and final phase of a major refurbishment of a university college library.

The Old Library at St John's
The Old Library at St John's

Beard moves on site this month at St John’s College, Oxford, to start work on a £10m refurbishment of the Old Library and Laudian Library in the Canterbury Quadrangle.

The buildings are Grade I listed and one of the few remaining examples in the UK of the early 17th Century high baroque architectural style.

Beard has won a number of contracts from the University of Oxford in recent years and was appointed to this job on the back of its performance on phase one of the project, it said.

In 2019 Stepnell completed a £14m library extension for St John's.

The final phase of work, expected to be finished by early 2023, involves refurbishing the College’s Laudian Library and Old Library, and remodelling an area known as the Paddy Room beneath the Old Library.

The Paddy Room area underwent a refurbishment in the 1970s. This will be undone as part of the new work, to reinstate rooms that existed previously.

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Dean Averies, director of Beard’s Oxford office, said: “This is an incredibly prestigious building to be working on and our previous experience of working on phase one of the refurbishment means we are well placed to complete the piece.

The Laudian Library
The Laudian Library

“Working on a Grade 1 listed site has its own challenges, and of course there are the ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus. But we have a lot of experience of working on this kind of site in Oxford, and elsewhere.”

St John’s College principal bursar Zoe Hancock said: “This is a very important project for St John’s College and a site which sits at the heart of the college. We’re pleased to see Beard back on site for this final stage of the Library project, following their successful work at a previous phase. A site of such national importance requires sensitive handling and a high calibre of expertise and quality of work which we are confident Beard will be able to deliver.”

The quad - Canterbury Quadrangle
The quad - Canterbury Quadrangle

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