WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS, JOHN M. OLIN LIBRARY
Opened in 1962, Olin Library is a campus crossroads, where the university community connects daily through study, research, collaboration, and chance encounter. With thousands of people passing through daily, the library is one of the most visited buildings on campus.
In spring 2018, the Olin Library transformation project was completed, balancing the building’s Modernist heritage with the changing dynamic emblematic of academic libraries today. ABA’s design was based on our 2013 master plan, calling for 27,000 square feet of renovation and a 19,000-square-foot expansion. The expansion was accomplished without increasing the building’s footprint by excavating for two new floors under the existing building. Despite this major structural intervention, the library remained open throughout the 18-month phased construction.
A key design move was the opening of a new north entrance, creating new possibilities for campus circulation. A new interior “street” connects the north door to the original south entrance, drawing traffic through the middle of the library. Capitalizing on this new pedestrian flow, the design team placed a 75-foot-long, climate-controlled gallery along the street, giving the library new space for changing exhibitions that highlight its unique collections, which include a copy of the Declaration of Independence dated July 12, 1776.
Other new library initiatives also found space in the new floors. Storage for over 50% of special collections previously kept off-campus; the Exploration Center, dedicated to global research and travel; and instructional spaces supporting cross-disciplinary programming and research, all reside here. A new glass structure, inserted within the building’s existing atrium, links four floors with exhibition, study, and expanded café spaces.
The John M. Olin Library renovation and expansion was honored with a design award from AIA St. Louis.
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Project Size: 46,000 sf
Sustainability: The existing building was preserved with no expansion of its footprint.
Project Team: Thomas Hotaling AIA, Ian Miller AIA, Steven Gerrard AIA, Amit Oza (ABA); V Three Studios (Associate Architect); Alper Audi (Structural); Alberici (MEP); Available Light (Lighting); Superior Exhibits (Exhibit Fabrication); Click Netherfield (Museum Case Fabrication); SWT Design (Landscape); Cole & Associates (Civil); CCI (Code); Wil-Spec (Specifications); Acentech (Acoustics); Sextant (AV); DVS (Security); The Capital Projects Group (Cost); Alise O’Brien (Photography)