A main goal and objective of the library renovation was to embrace the evolution of it as a “library of libraries” without losing its feeling of Firestone. Being one of the biggest university libraries in the nation, Firestone is the recipient of the largest number of individual private collection donations. As each was added, the library became a little less cohesive and a little more crowded. By relocating key collections, consolidating obsolete departments, and incorporating small, living room-like reading oases, and transparent interactive learning, meeting, and study spaces into the vast stack areas, outdated spaces were renewed with warmth and comfort based on contemporary ergonomics, technology, and sustainability standards.
As a historic renovation project, the design process began with research. Documents from the original construction and published accounts of the library project were combed for the original architects’ design intent, material specifications, technology, furniture, and fabric. Additionally, the building was surveyed to distinguish original building fabric from later alterations. As a result, signature spaces were strategically renovated to preserve the integrity
of the original building while most of the library was transformed into a much more transparent, light, and open environment. Developing a “both/and” design strategy respects historic buildings from dramatically different eras while accommodating contemporary functions.
Firestone remained open and fully operational throughout the decade-long renovation. The work was organized by phases in a “top down/bottom up” approach. Advance work preceding each phase began with an integrated workshop
to anticipate swing space requirements, book moves, circulation pathways, and protection of historic materials. Relocations involved rigorous and detailed conversations with staff and a communication program to inform patrons with “Renovation Updates” on the library website, directional pointers and posters, and a staffed “Bookfinder” station for updated information. As phases concluded and new spaces opened, the team evaluated subsequent patron use numbers and patterns, along with their desires. This allowed adjustments to the proportional allocation of tables, soft seating, and individual carrels. As such, the library evolved as the project progressed, and the decade-long process uniquely allowed for developing needs.
Shepley Bulfinch; Frederick Fisher and Partners; Bruce E. Brooks & Associates; Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA); Foley Buhl Roberts & Associates; Acentech