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A Royal opening for a London landmark building

HRH The Princess Royal will officially re-open the newly-transformed Lionel Robbins Building of the London School of Economics and Political Science at a ceremony on Tuesday 27 November.

The Princess Royal is the Chancellor of the University of London. She will meet students, staff and others involved in the redevelopment of the building, home to the LSE's Library and a new Research Lab.

Designed by architects Foster and Partners, the Lionel Robbins Building was transformed over 18 months at a cost of £30 million. Funding for the project came from a range of private and public donors as well as the School itself. The Library alone is used by LSE's 7,300 students and 1,800 staff, as well as 11,250 external users.

The historic shell of the building, in Portugal Street, has been carefully preserved and cleaned. The interior, however, is completely transformed. A spectacular spiral ramp dominates the Michael Peacock atrium (named after the LSE alumnus and donor) stretching up to a partially-glazed dome. The architects added a new fifth floor and a new bridge to link the Research Lab on the fourth floor to the Economics Department in the LSE building alongside.

The Princess Royal will be greeted by the School's Director Professor Anthony Giddens. She will unveil a plaque to commemorate the formal opening before touring the building and meeting students, staff and other guests.

Professor Giddens said: 'The Lionel Robbins Building is a wonderful example of what imaginative design can achieve. It is a landmark building for LSE and for London, and the first and most significant project in our £100m Campaign for LSE, a fundraising drive to improve both campus facilities and teaching and research opportunities for students and staff.'


The event is invitation only. For press photography and access to the unveiling ceremony, please contact Judith Higgin, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7582 or email: j.a.higgin@lse.ac.uk|. A restricted Royal rota system will operate on the tour.


  • LSE was founded in 1895 by Beatrice and Sidney Webb as a specialist teaching and research centre for the social sciences. More than 7,300 undergraduate and postgraduate students, from some 130 countries worldwide, are based in 18 academic departments and more than 30 research centres or institutes.

  • LSE's Library, also known as the British Library of Political and Economic Science, was founded in 1896. The Lionel Robbins Building was originally built as a WH Smith warehouse in 1916. It was bought by LSE and converted into the main library in 1978, with funds from government and private donations. However, by the 1990s, its earlier heritage made the interior unsuitable as a 21st century library. The building is named after the prestigious economist Lord Robbins (1898-1984) who taught at LSE from 1929 to 1961.

  • Building work began on the project in September 1999. More than four million printed items, including books, journals and archives, plus electronic resources, were moved from, and then back into the Library, from their 18-month temporary bases, the main one being Southampton Buildings, former home of the Patent Office Library and the Science Reference Information Service.

  • Funding for the redevelopment was secured through a successful partnership of public and private sector financing. The Library project was partially funded by an £8 million grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and a £4 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The School received a £6.6 million award from the Economic and Social Research Council's Joint Infrastructure Fund for the development of the Research Laboratory. In addition to public funds, the School received generous support from around 3,000 private donors and foundations. Three of the donors made possible gifts of more than £1 million: the Michael Peacock Charitable Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Trustees of the Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Charitable Foundation, while the Wolfson Foundation gave a grant of £500,000.

  • The Research Laboratory is home to the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion; the Centre for Economic Performance; the Financial Markets Group; and STICERD - the Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines.

  • The Library offers 1,600 study places including 490 IT workstations and over 225 laptop drop in points. Around 30 per cent of the study places have IT workstations, compared to the national HE library average of 17.5 per cent.

20 November 2001