Columbia University, Butler Library

New York, New York

The library was designed by James Gamble Rogers and completed in 1934. Designed as a pre-World War II library, it is the largest building on campus. The structural stack core is surrounded by large suites originally designed for departmental libraries, reading rooms, administrative and other uses, such as classrooms.

Over the years, with increases in enrollment and ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMWank Adams Slavin AssociatesCOST PER SQ FT$175.00CITATIONGold CitationFEATURED IN2000 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYLibraries/Media Centers collections, as well as changes in technology, the use patterns in parts of the building, especially surrounding the stacks, were changed significantly. This change produced a severe shortage of reading spaces, generally inadequate facilities for users, poor conditions for the efficient delivery of services, and inadequate accommodations for the future growth of library collections. The mechanical systems vital for the preservation of books, as well as human comfort, had fallen into disrepair. In addition, there was serious deterioration of the physical plant and a lack of code compliance.

The renovation plan maintains the distinctive grandeur of the building’s interior spaces. In addition, the plan introduces 21st-century information programs; redistributes functions for more efficient organization; refurbishes grand original spaces; and incorporates new mechanical/electrical systems.

Butler Library houses three distinct libraries: undergraduate Library with reserves; and greatly expanded undergraduate reading rooms and collection accommodation, new media and instructional program; rare Books and Manuscript Library; research Library with newly created reading rooms built around a non-circulating collection.

In addition, new data and communications systems will link all areas of the library. Circulation, reference, periodicals, electronic text services, and currently dispersed technical-services staff will be integrated in new contiguous spaces. The previously closed stack core will be opened to each floor for easy access to book collections.

Technology details include a 72-strand fiber-optic backbone and 1,800-voice cable running to a new central main communication room within the library, from which distribution is made to two individual communication closets per floor via 12-strand fiber-optic backbone along with 200 voice (telephone) lines.

Building systems and materials included renovating existing marble, wood, bronze and plaster; new interior construction to expand undergraduate services; complementing existing materials and detailing significant alterations to the steel structure to accommodate new layouts and services; new lighting; upgrades to the elevators, which are extended to the 900 level; complete replacement of the mechanical plant; new central chilled- water system; new sprinkler system; and an independent, constant-volume air system to meet book-preservation criteria for temperature and humidity control.

The library will be representative of the best libraries in the world—in its embodiment of the past, its accommodation of the present and its anticip