MUSEUM PIECE: The exterior of the British Museum's world-famous Round Reading Room is now exposed to view after the completion of an eight month demolition contract which has removed the now redundant library stacks which have surrounded it for decades. Demolition contractor H Smiths (Engineers) removed more than 20,000m3 of rubble to clear the way for the creation of the Great Court, a new public space designed by Foster & Partners, that will be covered by a 6,000m2 glass and steel roof containing more than 3,000 individual panes. The exterior of the 140 year old Round Reading Room will be clad in Portland stone, and the same material will be used to reconstruct the south portico of the courtyard. A new lower level will be created to house lecture theatres and an educational centre. Structural engineer, building service engineer and planning supervisor is Buro Happold, with Mace
as construction manager. The whole Great Court project is expected to cost 97M and be completed late 2000.