University Libraries University Libraries University at Albany University Libraries
Library Renovation Project

January 22, 2010

Renovation of the University Library

The University Libraries has received a $2 million appropriation through the State University Construction Fund Capital Plan Request (2008-2013) to address critical maintenance needs in the University Library (the main library at the west end of the Podium). The original request made by the campus in 2007 for Library renovations was for $110 million which was subsequently reduced to $30 million and finally approved for $2 million to begin addressing Library facility needs. At this time it has been indicated that the University Libraries will receive additional appropriations over the next three years but will not know the scope of the funding until each fiscal year.

The University Library renovation is being done in conjunction with the 15 to 20 year renovation of the academic podium. Unfortunately, the reality is that $2M doesn’t buy much, particularly with an aging facility that needs a considerable amount of infrastructure updating: a more efficient heating & cooling system, more electrical power, and improved lighting efficiency, to name a few. Over the past year the University Library Renovation Advisory Committee (ULRAC) has been meeting to focus on renovation opportunities to bring the University Library building into the 21st century in order to properly serve the varied needs of students and faculty. The committee has developed a list of recommendations for projects that would help achieve this goal.

Realizing that any work done to address space utilization or technological improvements was greatly dependent upon infrastructure improvements and that it would be a waste of precious resources to build something only to have to move or change it later, ULRAC decided the best approach was to hold on to the funding until the entire building was examined by an architectural/engineering firm. With the $2 million in hand ULRAC joined forces with the Office of Space Management and Campus Preservation and ITS to develop the RFQ to hire an architectural firm. This resulted in the hiring of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, Architecture & Planning P.C.. The hiring of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott (EYP) took many months and finally they are on board and have started analyzing the building.

On Friday December 11, 2009 the kick-off meeting for the SUCF project to Renovate the University Library – Phase 1 was held with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott and the University Steering and Working Committees. Attending from EYP were: David Fixler, Project Executive; Steve Reilly, Project Manager; Rayford Law, Lead Designer; and Richard Bussell, consultant from Vantage Technology. The representatives from EYP provided an overview of who would be working with the various campus committees, their first impressions of the University Library and campus architecture, examples of comparable & exemplary projects, and how they may utilize the architectural features and structure of the building. Library representatives were favorably impressed with EYP’s admiration and respect for the architecture of the campus and their preliminary ideas for using various architectural features to update and expand library space. More to come on those ideas as the planning takes shape.

Some of the highlights from the meeting are as follows:

Steering Committee: Mary Casserly, Dean & Director of the University Libraries; John Giarrusso, Asst. VP for Facilities Management; Sheila Mahan, Asst. VP for Academic Affairs (representing the Provost’s Office); Steve Beditz, Interim Assoc. VP for Finance & Business; Errol Millington, Senior Staff Associate for Space Management and Preservation; and Michael Beaton, Asst. Campus Planner for Space Management and Preservation.

Working Committee: Heather Miller, Assoc. Director for Technical Services and Library Systems; Peter Recore-Migirditch, Library Business & Facilities Manager; Mary Jane Brustman, Assoc. Director for Public Services; David Radzyminski, Facilities Program Coordinator for Facilities Management; Peter Bloniarz, Dean of the College of Computing & Information; Bill Roberson, Director of the Institute for Teaching, Learning & Academic Leadership; Carole Sweeton, Director of ITS Client Support Services; Joshua Sussman (student representative); Derrick Phillips, Facilities Management Estimator; and Michael Beaton.

The sequence of EYP’s work will be as follows: discovery, analysis, conceptual design & evaluation and a finalized program design and construction plan. The work will be broken down into 3 phases: Phase 1: program study, Phase 2: initiate the program, and Phase 3: construction phase. One of the basic requisites will be to develop a phasing plan to keep the University Library open and able to provide services while any construction takes place. Once EYP is done the University will be provided with a plan that can be carried out over multiple years and pursued as fast as the money becomes available.

EYP provided examples of projects done at Harvard’s Widener and Hilles libraries and Olin Library at Washington University in St. Louis, which is very similar in construction to the University Library. The Hilles Library project was similar in scope to ours and improving the lighting throughout the building was one of the noted improvements. EYP noted that the UAlbany light palms are the singular architectural feature that will not go away and contributes to the campus’s grandeur and “majestic” size. The exterior “sunken garden” areas on the north and south side of the University Library and the space in front of the main entrance were mentioned as very interesting and useful spaces that could be converted to inside space providing much needed square footage for expansion. Some very preliminary sketches were presented on the various concepts that could be explored to re-organize staff vs. public space on the first floor. As the discovery phase progresses these concepts should become more focused and defined.

There was a brief discussion about the basement level space and how the various “library tenants” (Dept. of Computer Science, Academic Support Service/EOP, Advisement Service Center) would be factored into the overall needs of library space. In addition to our interest in increasing or better utilizing library space, each department occupying library space is interested in increasing their space as well. Dean Casserly agreed that there are partnerships with other departments that would make sense to pursue and the goal will be to find those that complement the services provided by the University Libraries.

The next set of meetings will be scheduled in late January and will include tasks for each committee to provide more information. In the interim EYP will be taking measurements and verifying dimensions of the building, so do not be surprised if you see people walking through the building with tape measure in hand! EYP intends to hold meetings with Library groups as well as select campus groups to gather as much information as possible about library services and the campus space needs.

Periodic updates will be posted on the Libraries’ web page. Questions or comments regarding the renovation project can be directed to Peter Recore-Migirditch, University Libraries Business & Facilities Manager, at 442-3563 or