McMillan Memorial Library – Proposed Architectural Plans

Historical Information:

The McMillan Memorial Library is Nairobi’s oldest library and Kenya’s second oldest after the Seif bin Salim Library in Mombasa. It was founded in 1931 by Lady Lucie McMillan in memory of her late husband, Sir William Northrup McMillan. McMillan was an American who  settled in Kenya in the early 1900s. The library was managed by trustees appointed by Lady McMillan, and its use restricted to european settlers until the early 1960’s when the library was bequeathed to the then  Nairobi City Council who are still the custodians of the library. 

In 2018, Book Bunk formalised a milestone partnership with the Nairobi City County government which established its mandate to lead the restoration of three libraries including the McMillan.  Book Bunk’s roles include sourcing of financial  and; steering architectural restoration, and consequent  management of the libraries.

Architectural Information:

The McMillan Memorial library is a 2040 sqm, two story building. The building is neo-classical  in design featuring granite-clad columns along the façade and a grand white marble trapezoidal stairway leading up to the portico. Two lion statues flank either side of the entrance.

The external walls were constructed of smooth rendered stone under a flat roof and the internal walls are clad in polished timber panels. The windows are glazed in tall steel casements allowing for ample natural lighting and the doors are made of heavy hardwood panels hung in timber frames, pedimented to the lintels.

The floors are finished in parquet to the main areas with terrazzo to the entrance way. The building features a skylight, antique fittings and  hardwood furniture as well as a series of artefacts and art pieces.

Take a virtual tour of Nairobi’s McMillan Memorial Library, courtesy of Google Arts and Culture.

About the Restoration

These  proposed restoration  plans are a result of several months of consultation with the public, library management and stakeholders as well as  industry experts. These plans are also available at the library for public viewing and input. The amendments to the McMillan Memorial Library are proposed to ensure that the building remains structurally sound, safe and accessible to all including those who are differently abled. Energy efficiency is key for this restoration as is the installation of features that allow for multipurpose use and consequently, revenue generation. All proposed  renovations are in line with the guidelines for the restoration of  heritage buildings. 

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