Renovations at MIT and Yale, Brooklyn's First New Branch in 40 Years, and More Library Construction News | Branching Out

A re-envisioned Hayden Library and courtyard at MIT, fresh film archives at Yale, Brooklyn PL unveils its first new branch in 40 years, Columbus Metropolitan Library cuts the ribbon on its HIlltop Branch, and more library construction news.

exterior courtyard with people sitting on benches, small treesThe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently opened its newly renovated the Hayden Library and Building 14 courtyard to the public on August 23. Kennedy and Violich Architecture used a design concept called “Research Crossroads” to create flexible spaces that accommodate a range of teaching and learning needs and supports community functions. The design also maximizes natural light, extending the library space into the courtyard. The library, which achieved LEED Gold Certification, is the first MIT construction project to target “‘Red List Free” materials for all interior finishes and fabrics, including cork floors, felt ceiling baffles, and low-VOC paints. Energy upgrades include replacing single-pane glass in the large bay windows with high-performance sealed insulated windows to reduce thermal losses, updating existing air-handling units and perimeter radiators to optimize energy use, upgrading all lighting to low-energy LEDs controlled with daylight and occupancy sensors, and selection of EnergyStar appliances throughout the building.

On the seventh floor of Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library, New Haven, CT, a 3,200 square foot space that once housed Yale’s map collection has been renovated to house the Yale Film Archives. The archive houses more than 7,000 titles on 16 mm and 35 mm film, plus about 40,000 DVDs, 5,000 Blu-ray discs, and 6,000 VHS tapes. A 23-seat screening room features theater-style raked seating; a conservation suite has a cold storage vault for housing film. The new space is adjacent to the recently opened Humanities Quadrangle, which features a 183-seat lecture hall.

In mid-October the Brooklyn Public Library opened its first new branch built in 40 years. Designed by WORK Architecture Company and constructed by Shawmut Design & Construction, the Adams Street Library is located under the Manhattan Bridge and offers views of the Manhattan skyline. The $7.2 million, 6,500 square foot space features the brick walls and exposed timber ceilings of its original building, a former trash processing center. The facility also includes flexible meeting rooms and all-ages programming spaces, with a bright, elevated children’s area in the center of the library, and bright orange letters on the brick exterior that spell out “LIBRARY.”

Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), OH, has cut the ribbon on its new Hilltop Branch—CML’s 12th new library to open since 2014. The renovation and expansion by architect Gresham Smith, begun in early 2020, adds approximately 32,500 square feet to the building’s footprint. It features an interactive children’s area with more space for programs and reading, study, and computer use; a Ready for Kindergarten area to help prepare preschoolers for school; dedicated tween and teen areas; and after-school School Help Center; six meeting rooms and six study rooms; a spacious Quiet Room; public computers; and commissioned works of public art.

The Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA, reopened its doors in early September following a nearly 18-month renovation and expansion designed by BKV Group. The updated library, which is targeting LEED Silver certification, features a two-story, 6,849 square foot addition that brings the total size of the facility to 25,727 square feet. Improvements include a new entrance, dedicated preschool, elementary age, and teen sections on the lower level, a consolidated adult collection on the main floor, expanded conference rooms, an enhanced Falls Church History Room, accessibility upgrades, and completely updated interiors throughout.

Shawmut Design and Construction has completed a historic renovation at Newark Public Library, NJ. The 8,860 square foot renovation, performed in partnership with design firm Ann Beha Architects, includes the conversion of a double height reading room that had been used for storage into a new custom space to create the Philip Roth Personal Library, housing the late novelist’s 7,000-volume collection, as well as study and conservation areas, a reading room, and meeting and exhibit spaces. New mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems were installed, along with extensive temperature and humidity controls. The four-story Italian Renaissance–style building also houses an interactive art gallery, large scale event space, and auditorium.

Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects (SNHA) recently completed the multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion of Chicago’s St. Charles Public Library, integrating the original 1906 Carnegie Library Building and two past additions with a new addition. The 65,000 square foot building, unveiled on July 17, includes a new building entry, main stair, and elevator; public meeting space; makerspace; additional public seating; sunken courtyard that adds space for programming; improved staff work areas; and a completely replanned site that increases parking, improves safety, adds a drive-up service window, and creates landscaped amenities. Redesigned mechanical systems enhance ventilation and indoor air quality, increasing outdoor air intake by 250 percent.

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Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is Executive Editor for Library Journal.

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