Location: Allendale, Michigan
In 1969 the university library opened its doors to serve thousands of students for 45 years. The building, named for the university’s first president, remains a prominent anchor at the center of campus. When it was decided to repurpose the building as offices, preserving the rich history and character of the original building was important to our project team. The goal was to create a significant building that would serve the university for the next fifty years. The renovation and addition began in 2013, with completion one year later.
Preserving the building’s original character presented a variety of challenges, including site limitations to provide adequate space for the new program. The design incorporated a new structure adjacent to the existing structure with connecting spaces that blended the two designs. Select original elements were replicated, such as the fluted concrete detailing. The existing structure was updated with new penetrations for additional windows, and a curtain wall of glass was integrated. The glass patterning of the new structure includes a hidden message – it repeats the abbreviation of the university’s name in morse code.
Other challenges included tight floor to floor heights of only 11 feet. This led us to incorporate a chilled beam and variable air volume system for the building mechanicals. Through an early integrative design and engineering process, energy modeling, and eventually commissioning, we were able to strike a balance between saving the historical elements while also meeting the demands of the new program with updated systems. The project received LEED Silver certification in 2014.
Through many sustainability strategies, including storm water systems, water efficient landscaping, local and sustainable materials, a focus on occupant comfort strategies and lighting control, the final result was an efficient, comfortable building with a new story to build upon what was already told.