Liverpool Central Library and Archive reopened to the public in May 2013 after a £50 million refurbishment that took almost three years. The library was Britain’s first purpose-built public lending library when it was constructed in 1860 and is located in the heart of the Liverpool UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The project involved the provision of an 8,000m² library and specialist archive, along with the restoration of 4,000m² of Grade II listed historic buildings. In addition, the library now has capacity for up to 20 years of expansion, a state of the art conservation studio, a public roof terrace and, for the first time in over 60 years, celebratory public areas and entrances.

Liverpool Central Library 

Austin-Smith:Lord uses NBS Building on all of their projects because it helps simplify and speed up the specification writing process. Due to the scale and complexity of the library refurbishment, NBS specification was even more essential than ever for the success of the project as it demanded highly accurate, concise and up to date specifications. Without the use of NBS Building, the coordination of a reliable and accurate specification and all associated research into standards, regulations and guidance required to complete it, would have been a mammoth task.


We do all this hard work for you. It’s like having a team of specification experts by your side.

Keith Wilson, Technical Information Director at NBS, commented:

“This is at the heart of why our customers use NBS. To independently manage and keep up to date the breadth and depth of information you need to develop reliable specifications is a costly luxury for specifiers. It’s a huge, never-ending task which when you are doing it yourself increases your risk and takes a lot of time which really is a false economy.

“That’s why our teams of highly skilled and experienced Technical Authors and Information Specialists bring their expertise to ensure that projects like Liverpool Central Library meet and beat expectations. We do all this hard work for you. It’s like having a team of specification experts by your side.”

Liverpool Central Library

With over 30 projects currently in progress, Maggie Mullan, Partner & Studio Principal at the practice said:

“NBS underpins our efforts to provide a professional service to all clients; with NBS Building being the gold standard tool for specification writing.”

Liverpool Central Library


The six-floor library, with an impressive new atrium space, was procured through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) route. Risk management featured constantly and consistently in the concerns of both the PFI Provider and the end user. Maggie feels that the integrity of a tried, tested and accurate specification produced by NBS Building was especially important because of this and helped to mitigate these risk concerns.

She explains that on a complex, large scale project like Liverpool Central Library there needs to be a sound, agreed benchmark for review of technical proposals. For the technical advisors on this project NBS provided just that. Maggie said: “NBS is a nationally recognised, authoritative benchmark for products and workmanship, respected and understood by manufacturers, suppliers and contractors.”

 Liverpool Central Library


Austin-Smith:Lord’s longstanding relationship with NBS is assisted by regular training and support from the team who offer a comprehensive and flexible range of training courses to suit individual requirements. Whilst the organisation have been subscribers to the concept and suitability of NBS for many years, Maggie believes it is this training that allows new and existing technical staff to access and use the specification with ease and success.

Find out how NBS Building can save you time when specifying