« PreviousContinue »
the complete cost of two sides, 276 feet long, was estimated at £37,000 in 1830, but the actual cost of one side, about 160 feet long, in 1837-41, was £40,000.
45. We now proceed, though at the expense of some repetition, to review the proceedings of the Architect. Mr. Cockerell accepted the terms of competition offered in 1829. Then came the unauthorized proceedings of Nov. 25, 1829, and the consequent interruption of further business. Afterwards, Mr. Cockerell abandoned all previous claims, if any existed, when he agreed in 1830, to enter into a second competition according to new instructions, (§. 13). However, his plans were most properly rejected by the Second Syndicate, if for no other reason, at least, for being completely at variance with the instructions. Finally, when the proposal for building was again revived, Mr. Cockerell's plan was chosen by the Senate in a third competition in May, 1836, (§. 16).
46. From the Reports of the Syndicates appointed to confer with Mr. Cockerell, after the selection of his design, and before the commencement of the building, it appears that, in May, 1836, he was of opinion that the part "marked in his drawings (see Portfolio, "No. 5,) as proposed for immediate execution," comprehending the whole of the West Front, and parts of the North and South sides, might be built and prepared for its fittings for a sum not exceeding £25,000, but he declined to pledge himself to this precise sum. vague Report was rejected by the Caput. On the 24th of November, 1836, the re-appointed Syndicate stated that Mr. Cockerell gave it as his professional opinion, that, "regard being had to the "prices of building materials at the time of sending in the design” the required part could be built and prepared for its fittings for £25,000. But on the 8th of March, 1837, another Syndicate laid before the Senate a proposal from Mr. Cockerell, commencing as follows:-"The rise which has taken place in the prices of building "materials since Mr. Cockerell furnished his original design induces "him to advise now, that, instead of the portion just mentioned, the "entire North Side, the Architecture of which is of a less expensive "character, should be the part selected for erection in the first "instance," but this Report neglected to state how much less the entire North side was in extent than the entire West side and parts of the North and South sides estimated in May and November, 1836, to cost £25,000. It was also stated that considerable advantage, independent of expense, would be obtained from this North side of the building being complete in itself.
47. I have thought proper to make enquiries of one of the principal builders in Cambridge, respecting the variations of the prices of such building materials as would be required in the construction of the New Library from the Spring of 1836 to the Spring of 1837, and he informs me that there was no alteration of any consequence during that interval. If, however, half of the total estimate be supposed to be due to the cost of materials, an average rise of five per cent. would have added £625, and of ten per cent. £1,250, to the estimate of £25,000. But the most liberal allowance for any possible rise in the prices of materials, seems to fail completely to furnish a valid reason for disturbing the previous decisions of the Senate.
48. Mr. Cockerell estimated the cost of the North and West sides of the quadrangle, 276 feet long, prepared for their fittings, at £25,700, in 1830. Again, in the competition of 1836, he estimated the expense of building all the West Front and parts of the North and South sides of the present scheme, at £25,000. Mr. Cockerell persisted in affirming the accuracy of this estimate till the actual appointment of a Syndicate to advertise for tenders. It was then confessed that the part proposed for immediate execution could not be built for the estimated sum; reductions were made both in the quality and quantity of the part to be immediately erected, yet still the actual cost was £28,400 instead of £25,000, and the accommodation provided was for only 80,000 volumes, instead of 180,000 volumes, as was actually promised. The rooms below are also stated to be ill adapted or totally unfit for Lecture Rooms. It is quite plain from a consideration of the mere expense of the existing part of the proposed New Library, that it is impossible to provide the money required for its completion, and it appears to me that the facts detailed in the preceding historical sketch release the University from all obligation to proceed farther in attempts to carry out this extravagant scheme.
49. Many examples of the results of mis-managed Architectural competitions may be found in the pages of "the Builder." In its leading article of January 22, 1848, the subject is referred to in the following terms :- "Much has been said by us about Architectural competition. Collected it would form a small volume of somewhat "extraordinary character,-not very creditable to human nature, and, "if it could be forced into the understanding of the public, could 'scarcely fail to effect important changes without the aid of further "evidence of its necessity. This, however, is not to be hoped for; "and, we must go on month after month and year after year, repeating "the same thing in various shapes and heaping evidence on evidence, "in the hope of ultimately leading to a recognition of the evils which "result from the present mode of mis-conducting competitions, and so "of gradually inducing the adoption of a better system.
50. The preceding errors will, in many cases, suggest their own remedy, though the satisfactory management of Architectural competitions must always be a matter of great difficulty. The Royal Institute of British Architects published a Report on the subject about fifteen years ago, which contained a series of seven questions proper to be addressed by Architects to building Committees, such as "Will any means be adopted to ascertain that the designs can be executed for "the sums estimated ?" "Will the parties undertake to lay aside all designs, which cannot be executed for the sum estimated ?" "Is it "the intention of the parties at once to exclude from the competition "all designs not in strict conformity with their instructions in every "respect ?" (Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, II. 211). It would be well to anticipate these reasonable questions in drawing up the instructions for Architects.
51. Again, Mr. Wightwick says in his "Hints to young Architects," ," "take especial care that the plans, to which your first estimate "had reference be preserved; and that you obey no injunctions for "increasing or altering those plans, without first giving in writing a
"statement of the addition or deviation which will thereby be occasioned "in the cost.........Be urgent in again and again begging the fullest "consideration of your drawings and specifications before you go to public tender, impressing on the Committee the impolicy of making "alterations after a tender has been accepted. Make it, however, a "condition with persons competing, that the one whose tender is "accepted shall give in his detailed quantities and prices." p. 71.
52. If, however, those who are entrusted with the choice of the designs for great public buildings allow themselves to be deluded by fine drawings and small estimates, formed merely to suit the occasion, it is manifest that they are responsible for the encouragement of such discreditable practices. The instructions for Architects should be as few and distinct as possible respecting cost, style, &c.; and, being once given, compliance with them should be rigidly enforced. It should be distinctly understood that any selection of a design that might be made by the Senate would be completely null and void, unless, on the most careful examination made, perhaps, with the advice and assistance of a competent and independent Architect, there appeared every probability that the building could be executed for the estimated sum, and would afford the accommodation required. A statement of the Architect's estimate, of the contract entered into, of the sum of money paid, and of the effects of every authorized variation should be laid before the Members of the Senate, in order that they might never be called upon to act without full information. On the completion of the building, a final statement of estimates and actual cost should be printed and circulated. Such a method of proceeding would open a field to the conscientious and competent Architect-it would effectually expose the unprincipled or ignorant. Considerable contracts have frequently been entered into by Grace on the recommendation of Architects, but it is manifest, that, if we may argue from their frequently erroneous estimates, little confidence can be placed in their judgment in such matters. In all cases, public tender would be the surest safeguard.
53. Although the whole of the part remaining to be built in order to carry out the original design, might be provided with more appropriate fittings, and used as a Library, still the great windows, far apart, and the massive internal columns would offer great obstacles to any proper arrangement of books. The method of fitting up adopted in the New Library is represented in Fig. 2, and that recommended for economy and convenience is shewn in Fig. 1. The latter is merely a modification of the system adopted in most old libraries. Even in these, however, the windows were generally too wide and this seems afterwards to have led to the insertion of the dwarf cases, which rendered access to the books difficult and confined. It would be better to make use of the high cases alone, placed just so far apart as to leave convenient approaches; the windows must be arranged accordingly, and the external architecture and decoration ought to be conformed to the wants of the interior. A reading or manuscript room might furnish a legitimate excuse for the occasional insertion of a bay window. Suppose that the books were arranged in cases ten feet high, in Fig. 1, and from 7 to 11 feet high, in Fig. 2, as in the New Library, then the
frontage given for books, on an area of floor of 13 feet by 12 feet would be 648 square feet in Fig. 1, and 345 square feet in Fig. 2.
54. When books are placed on an upper floor, the pillars requisite for its proper support, render the rooms below unfit for most other purposes. If, however, the whole building were used as a Library, the pillars could be so disposed and contrived that they would not Occupy much space, or interfere with any desirable arrangement of the books. The lower rooms should be about twelve feet high, and the bookcases ought to reach quite to the ceiling, just as they do beneath the gallery of the New Library. A single floor of the present New Library, fitted up on this plan, would furnish a frontage of 17,500 square feet for books, supposing a central aisle to be left of the same width as that which now exists; or a complete building of the same size, fitted up as suggested, would furnish on four floors a frontage of 70,000 square feet for books. The Member of the First Syndicate stated that the whole of the upper floor of Mr. Cockerell's complete quadrangle (1831) would supply a frontage of 33,601 square feet for books, which being double the area of that in the Old Library, seems to have been erroneously considered sufficient to satisfy all possible requirements of the future.
55. I am quite aware that some people will object to any considerations of expense in providing a Public Library for a great University. They desire as much display as possible, and manifest a concern rather in "the case than in the jewels therein contained." Let us, however, consider our real position; the New Library is nearly filled with books, yet the debt upon it is not expected to be paid off till 1860. Thus, now that we ought to be providing means for erecting an additional building, we are oppressed with a debt, incurred through former ostentation. It seems very probable that if we could lay out £10,000 a year for the next ten years in completing the present scheme, the accumulation of books would be sufficient to occupy the whole of the Library floor at the end of that period. Suppose the existence of an inexhaustible building fund, yet where could a suitable site be procured, at any price, for another scheme? At the present rate of increase, it is possible that many members of the Senate may live to see the number of books in the Library doubled, and apart from considerations of expense, the sacrifice of everything to architectural display in the arrangement of a large Library, leads to a positive evil, from the great space over which the books thus become extended; and this would be very sensibly felt when the attendants were every day required to produce numerous volumes in the reading room, and restore them to their places in the evening.
56. The want of accommodation is so great at the British Museum, that the application to Parliament for money to be expended on new books has been reduced this year to one half the usual sum. writer in the Quarterly Review for December, 1852, sensibly remarks that "it is of no real importance where the great mass of books may "be placed, provided they are safe from the risk of fire or damp, and are easily accessible to the hands of the servants of the Museum"indeed, subject to these indispensible conditions, the closer they are "packed the better." A Church, a Chapel, or a Hall may fairly admit of considerable architectural decoration, for these are used for tem
porary assemblies, but Libraries and Museums are required to receive not only the collections of preceding generations, but the large additions of our own and future ages.
57. I freely confess, with the Member of the First Syndicate, that "I have never travelled in the regions of Grecian Art,' yet of Roman or Italian. Looking, however, at the exterior of the Public Library, I find that great labour has been bestowed on costly, yet insignificant mouldings, which fail to produce any effect when viewed from a distance, although they may be very correct, and may be seen on a close examination. The East window is quite a masterpiece of design, and the effect produced by the manner in which it cuts the entablature is probably unequalled, except in the case of the Taylor Institute at Oxford. 'The exterior too is faced with two perfectly distinct kinds of stone, one apparently an oolite, and the other a sandstone. Internally, I grant, there is a certain appearance of extravagance, produced partly by the mode of fitting up, but chiefly by the height of the room, and the admirably executed imitation
58. A full consideration of all the proceedings connected with the adoption of the design for the New Library, shews both the justice and necessity of giving up all attempts to proceed with it. Every one would naturally regret the abandonment of a plan once commenced, but it seems the best, or rather the only, remedy for former errors. If the above suggestion were adopted (§. 54), a building 150 feet long and 39 feet wide internally, provided with four floors, and fitted up as a Library, would supply a surface of 70,000 square feet for books, according to the data made use of in "Remarks," p. 15, which would be capable of accommodating about 400,000 volumes beyond those at present in the Old Library. Moreover, this is the least amount of accommodation for books that should be provided, in the event of the erection of a Library of the supposed magnitude, for with the present yearly increase in the number of books, it would certainly be filled in eighty years, and very possibly it might be fully occupied in fifty or sixty years from the present time.
59. Henry the Eighth granted to the University of Cambridge the right to reprint, and expose for sale, all manner of books. This Charter was held to overrule subsequent grants, "ad imprimendum solum," and by its help in 1758, the University established a concurrent right with the King's Printer, to print all Acts of Parliament (Blackstone's Reports, vol. J). In 1662, three copies of every book printed were granted to the King's and the two University Libraries. In 1709, a bill was brought into Parliament proposing to grant copyright for 14 years and no longer, and for continuing the three gratuitous copies, to which the Commons added two, and the Lords four more, making in all nine copies. In 1801, the Copyright Law was extended to Ireland, where a large trade had previously been carried on in reprinting English Books, and at the same time two free copies were granted to the Dublin Libraries. In 1814, the duration of Copyright was extended from 14 to 28 years. In 1818, the booksellers complaining of the hardship of their being obliged to give eleven copies of each published book, procured the appointment of a Parliamentary Committee to inquire into the subject. It appears, however, that nothing