British Museum, London
Sir Robert Smirke’s plans for the British Museum (1823–52) contained a planted central courtyard intended for use as a public garden. Soon after its completion, however, the museum was extended, and a round domed library structure was inserted in the open courtyard. With the relocation of the British Library, the opportunity arose to open the courtyard and reading room to the general public again. Normal Foster’s scheme, at present under construction, contains a spacious foyer, which will serve as a distribution zone to the exhibition spaces, plus a restaurant and book shop. The reading room is linked to the main building by a light glass roof supported by reinforced concrete columns and the existing museum walls. Since the circular structure is not set precisely in the middle of the courtyard, the glass roof has a complex geometric form. The double-curved steel framework was delivered in segments and welded together on site.Thenew facilities are due to open in the late summer.