Building the Future

Building the future will shape the development of the British Library’s campus in St Pancras, London – one of the great public buildings of the last century

Published date:

We want the Library – which opened in November 1997, and is now a Grade I listed building – to evolve into one of the world’s great knowledge hubs for the 21st century.

The architect of this remarkable building, the late Sir Colin St John Wilson, devoted 37 years of his career to its design and construction. The British Library aims to fulfil his vision, increasing our ability to share our collections for research inspiration and enjoyment, while retaining the Library’s distinctive character. It grows out of Living Knowledge, our eight year vision for the Library as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2023.

Our physical spaces are now reaching capacity and our exhibition galleries are only able to display a fraction of the treasures that we hold. The huge success of recent exhibitions on Comics, Propaganda and Magna Carta highlight a growing public appetite for engaging with our collections.

Our surrounding neighbourhood has also undergone a transformation of its own, with the opening of the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, the ongoing redevelopment of King’s Cross and the emerging cluster of world-class knowledge and research institutions dubbed the Knowledge Quarter within a mile’s radius of the Euston Road.

Our vision is to re-orient and expand this magnificent building’s capabilities so that we are better able to anticipate and meet the needs of our users, our local community and the wider national and international network of libraries.

We want St Pancras to drive the next stage of the British Library’s evolution as a global player in the knowledge economy. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we use the site and, with the involvement of the right partners, create a technologically enabled civic space that combines creativity, versatility and commercial sustainability. Whether you are a user, a neighbour or a potential partner we’d like to hear from you.  Please find below information on how you can stay in touch as this programme develops.

The key changes

At the heart of this development will be new spaces of exceptional architectural quality and distinction, which will support the Library’s purposes in research, culture, learning and business support, as well as a new headquarters the Alan Turing Institute for ‘big data’ research.

Included in our development plans will be the creation of new:

  • Exhibition and gallery spaces
  • A headquarters for the Alan Turing Institute
  • Learning facilities and other flexible spaces that can be used for public events and talks
  • A new public entrance on Midland Road
  • New public realm

How we’re making this happen

To achieve our Living Knowledge goal of transforming the British Library at St Pancras, we are looking for a commercial partner who will develop 2.8 acres at the northern end of our estate, adjacent to The Francis Crick Institute, opposite the Midland Road entrance to St Pancras Station.

Our commercial partner will be selected through a competitive dialogue tender over the course of the coming months. Part of this process will involve getting the thoughts of Library users, staff and the local community.

Our partner will take a long-term lease on the development, with the opportunity to design and build major new spaces for commercial uses that align with the Library’s purposes and values, and those of the local community.

Download the brochure for more information.

How to get involved

Throughout 2016, there will be a programme of engagement with our neighbours, users, partners and other stakeholders, all of whom will have a hand in shaping the future development of the Library’s St Pancras campus. Details will be available on this page.

You can contact us in any of the following ways:

By email:

By phone:

0800 470 4593

By post:


Building the Future will shape the development of the British Library’s campus in St Pancras, London – one of the great public buildings of the last century.