Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. Bryan Becker photo.

University of Virginia, Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library



Structural design for a new four-story, 72,800-square-foot library. Located near Jefferson’s “Academical Village” and the University’s older libraries, the exterior was designed to blend with the style of neighboring structures.

The bulk of the building, 80% of the total square footage, was built underground to preserve the open green of the library quadrangle while providing space for the special collections library, which also required well-controlled humidity and light levels. The building’s upper levels house the Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, & Culture, which includes an exhibit gallery, an archaeological room devoted to Virginia history, seminar rooms and study areas.

The structure consists of a cast-in-place concrete, water-tight basement with an exterior double wall system designed to resist ground water uplift pressures. The below-grade floors were constructed of a combination of beams and one-way slabs, which are exposed to view, and continuous drop panels with pan-formed concrete joists. The third floor plan – at grade – supports plantings and hardscape, and features a vaulted room with skylights running down the center. A long-span section over an auditorium was constructed of composite steel beams that span 50 feet, and includes several column transfers from above.

A monumental staircase comprised of compound curves spirals its way up through the building. This stair is structured with a cast-in-place curved slab which follows the complex geometry.

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