SCUP Excellence in Architecture for Building Additions, Renovation or Adaptive Reuse
University of Washington
Photos by Lara Swimmer
The Miller Hull Partnership
“ . . . focus on breakthroughs in how people study and learn is very compelling . . . different scale considerations, clusters are nicely done . . . interior space very inviting . . . moving the stairs was brilliant—completely changed the space . . . ”
Constructed in 1972 with few improvements since, the 165,000-sf library at the heart of the campus is one of the university’s most heavily used study and research spaces, serving 10,000 students/24 hours a day. The library’s inability to keep pace with shifts in learning, technology, and energy use expectations dictated a long overdue update to better address the importance of connectivity and collaboration to contemporary study habits and learning methodology, and to improve energy efficiency. “Finding” 6,500 sf of space within the existing structure by removing an imposing main staircase and replacing it with a smaller staircase eliminated the need to add additional square footage, and inspired reinvention of the atrium as the “heart” of the building with more usable informal study and gathering space. New collaborative classroom, study, and gathering spaces demonstrate how it is possible to leverage and embrace the constraints of an existing building structure to improve functional efficiency and better activate previously underutilized areas.