McKeldin Library is the University of Maryland’s (UMD) flagship research library. The original building was constructed in 1956 and the last major renovation occurred over 24 years ago. The first impression of the library, worn and dark with a dysfunctional layout, left a very bad first impression on student recruitment tours and inconvenience for regular users. Library services points were separated and dispersed. The inadequate lobby space was cut off by a security desk that blocked the travel path and views into the space and was problematic for tours as there was no gathering area. The original grand staircase had been was closed off from the main entrance and difficult to find. The lack of natural light coupled with low ceiling heights and a dense column grid at only 12 feet on center added to visibility issues making study spaces difficult to find and poorly organized. Wanting to create a drastically more inspiring and welcoming appearance with state-of-the-art functionality, UMD decided to study the renovation of the entire 39,286 SF first floor.
MCA was first commissioned to do a Programming and Feasibility Study for the project to determine the needs of the library, study the challenges present and the improvements required to the existing building and systems in order to provide a budget estimate for proposed improvements. Particularly challenging was the presence of the very tight 12’-0” on center structural column grid on major portions of the floor, requiring some creative thinking in terms of program and space layout. MCA worked with the library staff and our consulting team over a series of programming and preliminary design meetings to develop necessary program requirements, narratives for all the basic infrastructure improvements required, and preliminary design concepts to inform the preliminary cost estimate. After completion of this project, MCA was retained under another contract to provide design services for the renovation project.
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