The project included a new 48,250-sq.-ft. addition to the existing 34,705-sq.-ft. McAlister Library, with two stories below grade and three above. The library was designed to house approximately 1.3 million volumes in multiple languages and includes reading rooms, study carrels and conventional stacks. Several thousand books are the only known copy, with some dating back as far as the 1500s.
A key architectural focal point at the building’s entry is a stylized open book feature, accomplished through a glazing structure. DPR’s ability to innovate was critical as it contended with construction challenges that included a tight downtown site with very little lay down area. The building is surrounded on all four sides: two sides adjacent to existing buildings, and a city street and a utility right of way on the other sides. To stabilize the below-grade walls, the project employed a system that utilizes large, 50-ft.-long, 12-inch-diameter pipes. This was used in lieu of the more common tie-back system in deference to adjacent property owners who did not want tie backs underneath their structures.