This project involved a complete renovation of a subterranean library facility with the addition of 4,000 sq ft of new space at ground level. The decision to renovate and expand, instead of moving to a new location, maintains the close connection and excellent accessibility to the library that faculty and students had come to expect and to enjoy. This created a number of design and construction challenges due to the presence of the buildings that surround the plaza serving as the library roof. Additionally, antiquated infrastructure (two mechanical rooms and a leaky plaza) needed replacement. Challenges included an aging and leaky plaza ‘roof’, a constrained and difficult site wedged between adjacent buildings, and the complex interaction of nearby buildings that are interconnected at multiple levels.
The existing science library was housed completely underground in a basement. The only natural light provided was through a Brutalist courtyard with large overhangs that exacerbated the subterranean condition. Through the creation of an entry pavilion, portions of the courtyard were captured, expanded, and reconfigured to maximize the influx of natural light into the library’s depths. The wood and glass curtainwall grows organically out of the redesigned lushness of the courtyard.
By removing barriers and opening up the library; defining the plaza as a gathering place; providing better connections to the campus open space; and maximizing natural light, the existing library has been transformed into a vibrant 21st century facility—a window into the sciences.
Opsis Architecture; also The Sextant Group, Inc.; Code Unlimited; BHEGroup; Systems West Engineers; Catena Consulting Engineers; Andersen Construction; Anderson Krygier, Inc.; Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture & Planning