McHenry Library by Boora Architects


The renovation and addition to the McHenry Library renews a campus icon. The original library, designed by John Carl Warnecke and built in 1968, is a modernist and beloved structure of concrete and glass that sits amongst a grove of redwood trees at the heart of the campus. The 162,000sf building was given an extensive and intricate structural upgrade and interior renovation. A 118,000sf addition was designed to complement the original modernist structure through repetition of materials, scale and form.

Re-organizing the interior maximizes the use of daylighting. Seismic, life safety and technology upgrades were designed to maximize building efficiency.

The new wing respects the integrity of the existing building while continuing the balance between building and context. The lines of the original building are extended into the addition, their texture, proportion and rhythm are reinterpreted. The regular pattern of glass and concrete is echoed in the addition, but now reflects internal program elements. Nearly 40% of the building is in fenestration.

The library collection was moved onto compact shelving in the central core, affording protection from daylight and improving floorplate efficiency. A centrally-located cafe, extensive soft seating, reading porches and study rooms are designed to offer a variety of studying options and gathering spaces.

A new interior ‘street’ organizes the program elements, improving wayfinding and functionality. A commons at the intersection of the addition and the renovation on the main level accommodates computer stations and information desks in a flexible hub of activity. Wireless and fiber-optic communication is provided, increasing the usability of all library spaces.

By placing seating and social area on the building perimeter, students can take advantage of daylight and forest views offered from extensive floor-to-ceiling windows.

Architects: Boora Architects
Location: Santa Cruz, California, United States
Photographs: Chad Ziemendorf


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