Mui Ho Fine Arts Library, Ithaca, NY, USA

Mui Ho Fine Arts Library
Mui Ho Fine Arts Library

The renovation of Rand Hall into the new Mui Ho Fine Arts Library created a new student space that is highly comfortable and energy conscious while maintaining the vintage aesthetic of the original building, reinterpreting the historic precedent of open, occupiable book stacks, and housing Cornell’s Fine Arts Library collection of 120,000 volumes.

Transsolar embraced the challenge of limited alterations allowed to the historic façade despite the ambitious energy and comfort goals established by Cornell. The lofty architectural vision includes the suspension of the entire stack area in the center of the building, literally showcasing the very soul of the new Fine Arts Library. The renovation replaced the original steel-framed windows, made up of many small panels, with oversized insulated glazing, with a single pane for each large façade opening. When combined with insulation added on the interior of the existing façade, heat loss through the envelope was dramatically reduced.

A façade-integrated mechanical design minimizes the presence of systems, especially in the book volume. Interior roller shades on the oversized glazing close on sunny days, while slightly cool outside air is supplied low to the floor, near occupants. Warm air from the shades flows up the façade and is exhausted before entering the stacks. Radiant tubing in the floor of the library covers any remaining heating and cooling together with heating elements hidden beneath the windows.

Daylight sensors throughout the second level reading room and occupancy sensors in the stacks keep lighting power consumption low. The new library, together with a renovated model shop on the first floor, is targeting an annual energy use intensity of 33 kBtu/gsf, a 72% savings over the existing building.