University of Washington, Suzzallo Library Renovation

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project at a glance

  • Client The University of Washington
  • Architects Skilling Ward Magnusson & Barkshire, Mahlum Architects  
  • Location Seattle, WA
  • Attributes Higher EducationEducationWashington

The Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington consists of four buildings built over a period of several decades; the first was originally constructed in 1925, comprising the wing that faces Red Square; a 1935 wing that faces Mary Gates Hall; a 1947 addition; and a 1963 addition. The phase I renovation of Suzzallo Library is the first of a three-phase master plan addressing critical structural, mechanical, electrical and life safety deficiencies, as well as limited priority program elements.  

The first phase addressed critical life safety concerns. It included seismic upgrade of the entire library building and additions, elevator renovations and the addition of a fire suppression system. The remainder of the first phase concentrated on the 1925 building and the 1935 addition, and consisted of mechanical and electrical upgrades, cleaning and sealing of the exterior envelope and a new electrical substation in the 1963 addition.  Code compliant exit routes from the 1935 addition and from the North and South ends of the Suzzallo Reading Room were constructed.

Because of the significant role Suzzallo plays in the University’s research and teaching mission, the library had to stay in operation throughout the duration of the renovation. Due to limited relocation space for both staff and books, the renovation took place in three phases over a two-year construction period. Displaced library functions were continued in remote locations and returned to Suzzallo upon completion of construction in each phase. Other library functions continued adjacent to on-going construction. In addition, the project is located in the heart of the campus. Limited construction site access, material and restricted construction periods were required to maintain safe and effective operation of the library by students, faculty and the general public.

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