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The Great Court (UK)

Carrier's Holland Heating Transforms British Museum

When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the Great Court, the US$150M millennium project that transformed the British Museum's inner courtyard, it marked perhaps the second time in history that Holland has so influenced British culture. In fact, you'd have to go back four centuries – when William III, also known as William of Orange, sat on the English throne – to find a time when Holland had as much impact on British history.

Only rather than a monarch, this time the land best known for windmills has sent the continent's premier manufacturer of air handling units as its representative – Carrier's Holland Heating. The company has supplied a total of 43 air handling units, valued around US$400,000, to serve various areas within the newly refurbished museum. With the world-famous Reading Room at its center, the museum now boasts Europe's largest covered public square. The courtyard was one of the lost spaces of London, hidden from public view since 1857.

The Great Court's magnificent glass and steel roof was designed by computer and completed in 10 months to an accuracy of 3-mm. The 478-ton steel structure, which supports 315-tons of glass, has been built like a giant jigsaw puzzle, to cover this exciting new 6,000-square-meter piazza.

Four primary air handling units – each with a capacity of 10 cubic meters per second – installed in a corner of the Museum supply 39 additional units positioned throughout the complex to serve galleries, seminar rooms, the restaurant and auditorium conference rooms. These four units, and the two supply air handlers serving the Reading Room (built in 1855 and now open to the public for the first time), were supplied from Holland as flat packs and assembled on site, as available space and access in both instances was extremely limited.

Key factors influencing the selection of Carrier's Holland Heating units were low operating sound levels, critical in the conference rooms and auditorium, and constancy of temperature and humidity to protect the priceless artifacts.