Washington University in St. Louis, 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.

These floors house new initiatives for the library: 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.
A new glass structure, inserted within the building’s existing atrium, links four floors with exhibition, study, and expanded café spaces. A new interior “street” through the middle of the library connects the original south entrance with a new north entrance, creating a new pedestrian link for the campus. Running along this new street is a 75-foot-long gallery for changing exhibitions that highlight the library’s unique collections, which include a copy of the Declaration of Independence dated July 12, 1776.

St. Louis, Missouri
Size: 46,000 sf
Sustainability: The existing building was preserved with no expansion of its footprint.

Project Team: Thomas Hotaling 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)