Yale University, Irving S. Gilmore Music Library

New Haven, Connecticut

The Irving S. Gilmore Music Library occupies 26,000 square feet—13,000 square feet of new construction plus 13,000 square feet of renovation. An additional 27,000 square feet of adjacent space required modifications in order to accommodate the presence of the music library.

The site constraint is an existing 50-foot- by 85-foot- by 65-foot-high lightwell located ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCITATIONGold CitationFEATURED IN2000 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYLibraries/Media Centers the Sterling Memorial Library, a 500,000-square-foot Gothic, cathedral-style structure designed by James Gamble Rogers in the late 1920s.

The design solution is a three-story building within a building, dispersed in and around the lightwell, anchored by a multistory Grand Reading Room.

The design concept in the Grand Reading Room is conceived as a multi-level space meant to evoke the scale and ambiance of several reading rooms located within the surrounding structure. The mezzanine level is pulled away from the east wall of the space, respecting the two-story-high windows along that elevation, and providing a vertical separation between the record-listening carrels at the main level and the reference reading area above. A gently curved roof floats above the existing brick walls, shedding water onto adjacent roofs, while maintaining a low profile and minimal presence on the campus skyline. The roof is supported by a series of custom-fabricated, Gothic-inspired, arched steel trusses that are anchored to the building’s existing steel-frame structure. Clerestory windows permit indirect light to enter the space from all four sides, while protecting the reference materials from exposure to direct sunlight. The character of the space and the detailing of the elements within are meant to convey the sense that this is a contemporary facility, yet one that is clearly respectful of the Gothic structure in which it resides.

Photographer: ©Peter Aaron/Esto Photographics

"Innovative treatment of trusses to simulate Gothic style…use of beams unique. Very nice use of the open space."—2000 jury