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Princeton Library Renovates and Modernizes


By Ryan Berlin Design & Construction
Firestone Library on campus of Princeton University

Maintenance and engineering managers in higher education are under constant pressure to maximize the appearance and sustainability of their campuses as a way of attracting students and faculty. One university that has taken major steps to help ensure its long-term success is Princeton University.

The university has completed a 10-year renovation of its main campus library, the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library Firestone Library, which opened in 1948 as the first large American university library constructed after World War II. The renovation focused on creating a building that is well-suited to support modern library services and contemporary approaches to scholarship, while also providing inspiring, flexible spaces for study and work. The renovation also incorporated a number of sustainable features, greatly improving the energy-efficiency of the building, according to university communications.

While the classic collegiate Gothic exterior of Firestone has been maintained, the renovation vastly changed the 430,000-square-foot interior. Visitors and patrons are now greeted with natural light cascading into open spaces where glass walls reflect students studying in small groups.

New systems include lighting sensors for dimming lights, thermally insulated windows with ultraviolet control glazing, chilled-beam technology for energy-efficient heating and cooling, a green roof, and LED light fixtures. Overall these measures significantly reduce the building’s energy use.

The project “is more than a renovation; it is a recommitment to the themes that inspired the original building, which are no more than to encourage access to the use of books and, as time has changed, the broad range of technologies that support a liberal arts education,” says Ron McCoy, university architect. “The original building and the renovation are dedicated to creating an atmosphere of a ‘humanistic laboratory’ that provides spaces of comfort and delight and supports opportunities for inspiration and contemplation.”

Ryan Berlin is managing editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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