August 2018

Photo of the construction area of Hayden Library showing the holes cut in the floors on Levels 4 and 3 for the new elevator core.
New openings in the floors on Levels 4 and 3 for the new elevator core.
The work on Hayden tower is just short of six months old and making excellent progress.  I have put together an album of the photos taken on this week’s formal walkabout:  August 17, 2018 Renovation Walk Through .  Two points of news.

First, looking forward, there will be a short period now when the construction area on the main level of Hayden ’89 (the ‘lower concourse’) will have to be extended further even than it is now.  This will involve some significant disruption of working habits for students looking to use computers particularly.  We will staff this to help people still get their work done and to be aware of other opportunities.  (The space we will be using in Armstrong Hall for this academic year and next is particularly important for this.)  The purpose is pretty direct:  very heavy concrete work will be going on over that space and best practice directs that we protect the space until the people, the construction tools, and the concrete mixers are out of the way.

Second, we sent out notes last week when we had a water invasion into Hayden ’89 from the construction side.  I’m happy to say that the total number of books requiring conservation intervention is in the low to middle two figures and the risk of repetition has significantly reduced.  The period of real vulnerability is almost over.  What happened was the classic ‘perfect storm’.  On one hand, the structure of the old clerestory was being removed and the existing construction joining the ’89 and ’66 wings was at maximum exposure:  that will close up very soon.  On the other hand, we had a truly amazing monsoon rain storm beginning at about midnight.  Estimates are that something like 3.5 inches of rain fell in thirty minutes, preceded by high winds that had ripped some of the protective structures out of place.  Water penetrated in the areas of C41 and the new stacks on the lower level and on the lowest level in the area of the bookstacks.  Construction supervisors came on site as the storm was finishing and worked with remediation specialists all night.  As of this past week, significant plastic protection was still in place in all the areas where books could be exposed and we will continue to review the need until we are certain that conditions have stabilized and normal protection against the elements restored.  It helps to know that in none of the affected areas do library materials actually reach the floor – there is always a gap, so when water spreads soaking carpet, e.g., the books can escape all contact. 

Photo from inside level 2 of Hayden Library looking out, showing the progress being made to enclose the moat on the south west corner of the building.
Taken from inside Level of Hayden Library, showing the progress being made to enclose the moat on the south west corner of the building.

Obviously this is not something we foresaw or want to repeat.  After our walkabout this week, I’m confident that we have measures now in place and I’m grateful to all who participated in the intervention and restoration from this. 

And we got a bonus.  After the storm, there was also water invasion in our Reflection Room on the lowest level of ’89, well away from where the other water came.  Given the timing and given the history of small leaks in Hayden ’89, we assumed rain was the culprit.  But with all the other problems, we got more attention for the problem than usual and it now appears that the cause was unrelated – in fact, likely a very small (to the eye) water problem in the kitchen of Charlie’s café, dismissed as trivial by the staff there but in fact dripping down through the floor and into the space below.  We think we can solve this problem once and for all quickly now.

The photos in my album will show that there is much more progress:  removal of the clerestory, opening floors for the new elevator core, opening the outside walls on the first and second floor where the old granite (preserved for other use) will be replaced by glass, giving us a much opener and brighter space.  It is just beginning to be possible to see something of what the new space will be like.

Jim O’Donnell, University Librarian