To accommodate growth in response to expanding student population and increasing degree offerings, the University of California, Santa Cruz commissioned Boora to renovate the McHenry Library, designed over 40 years ago by John Carl Warnecke, and add over 116,000 square feet of space to the building.
Boora’s collaboration with UCSC on the McHenry Library Renovation & Expansion began in 1993 with a full programming study. Funding was secured in 2003, allowing Boora to move forward with design, documentation and construction. The first phase of the project was the addition, completed in 2008. The renovation of the 160,000-square-foot existing library will be complete in the summer of 2010, 17 years after the project was initiated.
Located on a forested site at the center of campus along a main circulation corridor, the enhanced McHenry Library strengthens the geographic and intellectual core of campus, improves environmental conditions within the building, preserves the library’s collections, enhances the student experience and encourages a broad range of library events.
It provides the campus with a state-of-the-art academic resource housing offices for faculty and staff, group meeting rooms, individual study rooms and research space, which supplement traditional book stacks and reading areas.
The original building was designed as an object in a landscape, with a cast-in-place concrete structure, steel, glass, and pre-cast panels with exposed river rock aggregate. The building’s slender columns reference the site’s dense redwood forest.
The lines, proportions, and materials of the existing building are reinterpreted in the addition, creating continuity between old and new. The addition features an exposed cast-in-place concrete structure with concrete panels and the pattern of its glazing is a modified version of the original.
An information commons sits at the heart of the addition, accommodating computer stations organized for easy interaction between computer terminal users, information desks offering access to library staff and research assistants, a lounge space for group work, and both wireless and fiber optics for high-speed connectivity. A cafe is nearby.
On the west elevation, a main reading room occupies a double-height space behind a two-story curtain wall with black frame. Scrims on the exterior of the reading room control solar gain and diffuse direct light. The main reading room overlooks a new outdoor plaza south of the entrance to the existing building will link to the campus’s primary pedestrian route and accommodate outdoor lectures, readings and other library events.
A public lawn will enhance the pedestrian route and extend library functions into the adjacent environment through outdoor lectures, readings, and other library events. At the perimeter of the addition, a series of outdoor reading porches, screened from the elements, provide additional user spaces attached to the building for use during warmer months of the year.
Placing these spaces at the perimeter allows visitors to experience the landscape, buffered by exterior sun-shading scrims that protect occupants from direct light. A study bar is located along the southern edge of the building for quiet study adjacent to the stacks. The northern edge of the building is occupied by library staff and administration. Stacks are sheltered at the center of each floor plate.
Location: Santa Cruz, USA
Architects: Boora Architects
Area: 116,000 square feet
Photographs: Chad Ziemendorf