The appearance of the areas inside the building on the Place de la République has changed since 1895. After the First World War, there was no change, and the imperial decoration was retained. It was following the Second World War and the bombing of Strasbourg on 25 September 1944 that the areas open to the public were reorganised along more functional lines.
The contracting authority for the project is the Educational Authority of the Strasbourg educational area; the project is managed by the Agence Nicolas Michelin & Associés (ANMA).
The State and the local authorities are seriously committed to the project; they are funding the entire section of the project involving the building on the Place de la République, and they have funded the acquisition, renovation and opening to the public of the building in the Rue Fischart.
This has involved 61 million euros, broken down as follows:
At the heart of the project is the dome. The aim of the project is to make the dome once more the central feature of the building, as it used to be. The reading room used to be beneath the dome, receiving light from overhead. The central staircase serving the four levels open to the public will be positioned beneath the dome, and the building will receive light from the hollowed out walls supporting the dome, while the stainless steel slats in the stairwell will reflect the light.
Although the safety aspect was the initial consideration in launching the project, there are other reasons for a project on such a large scale. There are ten objectives, including the safety aspect:
Apart from maintaining its services, the BNU has set itself a schedule of ten projects to carry out in parallel with the architectural project, more particularly with the re-opening in January 2014 in mind.
Work began with the removal of the collections and is continuing with the restructuring of the indoor areas. The schedule is as follows.
When the building re-opens, which is scheduled for the first half of 2014, the indoor appearance of the BNU will be completely different.