Gould Solutions

By Natalie Lafferty ’22

So that begs the question, what is to be done? The main goal of the project was to make the library a “congenial, comfortable, and inviting environment…attractive in its ambiance and ample enough in variety and quality of seating to serve all of our students who may wish to work in it.” What Carleton decided to do was incorporate more single-person study areas, as indicated on the survey, as well as group study areas, such as study rooms and larger tables. Helping this was also the inclusion of flexible seating and furniture used for a multitude for purposes. In addition, there was a focus on natural light, with many of the single-person study spaces moved next to windows.

In terms of the floor plan, there were multiple proposed plans outlining either renovations, expansions, or combinations of the above. One of the plans included renovating only the existing library by fixing the heating and cooling, roof, and energy conservation. This plan was the cheapest option and required the least construction, but placed limits on the physical use of the space. The second plan consisted of the renovations as well as utilizing Scoville, adding an additional 18,000 square feet. In this plan, the basement of Scoville would be used to store low-use materials, the main floor would house the college archives and a media center, with 2,000 volumes in stacks on the second floor. Of course, this plan gave the library more square footage, but the library would be even more decentralized. At this point, the school was struggling to staff the science library in Mudd Hall and the separation of the collection could be problematic for a school the size of Carleton. The third option was renovating and expanding the existing building, adding about 27,000-33,000 square feet, almost doubling the size of the existing building. The final option would be to demolish the original library and build a completely new one, allowing for complete freedom, but costing much more. 

In the end they chose to renovate and expand the library, adding to the south and west sides of the building. More specifically, they added to the fourth and third floors on the south side and all floors on the west side, creating a wrap-around addition. It cost 8 million dollars, adding a total of 50,000 square feet, but not a complete fifth floor as was considered in the planning phase. The fifth floor idea turned out to be a mezzanine addition to the south part of the fourth floor near the entrance. They also combined the reserve and circulation desks near the entrance, featuring clerestory fenestration to let in light. This tower serves as the lobby for the library with services in clear view upon entrance, logically marked access points, and an overall warm and inviting space. To the left upon entrance would be an area for browsing, now known as the Atheneum. 

The exterior and position on campus was also in question as the library as it stood before the renovations was “timid” and “awkward” as described by the planning committee. As a result, it was believed the exterior must be at least two stories high above the entrance grade level. With that “gone then will be the image of moat and drawbridge, truncated facade and the visceral sense that the structure is slipping down the sloping terrain.” This paints a very negative image of the library as a structure, suggesting it was dwarfed by Leighton Hall and Laird Hall to its left and right. The original library was a box-like structure made out of limestone. To connect the Bald Spot to the library, a bridge was built as a walkway directly in front of the building. This caused the building to be set back from its neighbors, making it seem less important and meak. 

As a result, the library was extended forward to the south to put it more in line with the buildings on its axis. Yet, given all of these expansions, the planning committee wanted to avoid “visual encroachment” on Leighton, so they added a pedestrian walkway in between, allowing for campus traffic to flow to West Gym and other parts of the campus. To offset Skinner Memorial Chapel on the south side of the Bald Spot, they also included an overhang above the entrance, suggesting the library’s importance on the campus. They also added a new material to make the entrance stand out, yet connect to other buildings. By bringing in brick masonry the building resembled older buildings such as Burton Hall or Nourse Hall. At the same time, they incorporated the limestone used on the original building to provide accents and integrate the design with the existing part of the building.