Library Gazette

Construction/Renovation Update

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 4:59 pm

If you have visited ZSR Library over the past few months, you must have noticed some construction activity going on. This report will provide an update on the three major projects that have been taking place recently:

  • New Atrium Windows
  • New and Replacement HVAC units for Special Collections and the 8th floor
  • Preview and Testing of new cork floor for the Atrium

New Atrium Windows

Usually, we try to schedule improvement projects so that they take place during the times when there are the least amount of students in the building, when they will cause the least amount of disruption. This season, the scope of the atrium window replacement project was big enough that the project has stretched into September.

The Atrium is one of Wake’s most iconic campus locations. Every campus tour for prospective students ends in the Atrium and the 7 story windows at each end of the space frame the space in an inspiring way. However, the original windows were installed over 20 years ago and were in sad shape. Most panels boasted broken seals causing condensation and reduced energy efficiency. The new window frames have the added benefit of being aluminum (meaning less upkeep in the future, think rotting wood) and the glass will include UV protection.

The west side of the installation is complete and you’ll find scaffolding on the east side now, as Frank L Blum and Pfaffs remove the old windows and install the new ones. We have posted signs in the atrium directing students to other areas for quiet space.

The planned completion date is September 30. We hope everyone will agree that the end result is well worth the means!

Replacing Atrium Windows

Construction workers replacing windows on the west side of the Atrium

HVAC Upgrade Project

For years, there has been a persistent leak from the west side 8th floor HVAC unit that serviced our Special Collections Reading Room. This resulted in a constant threat to the rare collections housed in that room, along with causing damage to the ceiling and floors. At long last, this summer Facilities removed the ancient system and replaced it with a new 21st century unit. In addition, an extra system was installed to handle the HVAC needs for the majority of the 8th floor stack area (Previously they had shared the one unit). To accommodate the extra unit, we sacrificed several book ranges so that a new HVAC room could be built to hold the new unit. Hopefully, once the final touches and tweaks happen, the west-side 6th floor Special Collection areas will be climate controlled (temperature and humidity) and will be dry!

Crew Brings the Units Down Safely

HVAC workers receive the new unit that was delivered to the 8th floor roof via crane

Coming Soon: New Cork Floor for the Entire Atrium

The Atrium flooring (tile and carpet) also date back 20 years to the original installation when the Wilson Wing was built. You don’t have to guess the era just from seeing the blue and orange color scheme…..The carpet and tile are well worn from constant high use of the most popular area in ZSR Library. When deciding what type of flooring to use to replace the old, we traveled to many other libraries to get ideas. Flooring options have really expanded over the last few decades and we have tentatively selected to install cork flooring. It should offer noise reduction in addition to how beautiful it looks. We do want to be certain that it will stand up to normal public wear and tear, so the flooring vendor provided us with a mock-up installation. You will see it installed in the center of the atrium in front of the staircase to Reference. We want to see how it stands up to carts wheeling across it, students running across it during Capture the Flag events and thousands of footsteps that take place over a regular semester! The picture below shows the way we hope the floor will be installed, using a herringbone pattern. We invite your feedback over the next few months.

Worker Applying Sealant to Cork Floor Mockup

A worker installing a mock-up cork floor for us to test this semester

7 Responses to “Construction/Renovation Update”

  1. Thanks for the recap of the big improvements in the library. This summer has seen an upgrade in air, light, and flooring. That pretty much covers it!

  2. The new windows are beautiful! The clear view is amazing, and the floor sample looks great! I can’t wait to see how wonderful the atrium looks when all the projects are done. Thanks for the update.

  3. Thank you for documenting this, Susan. The atrium is going to be spectacular!

  4. PLEASE insert new carpet in the Atrium, instead of cork flooring. At least insert carpet underneath the study tables in the Atrium, where students are able to comfortably take off their shoes and relax their feet while studying. Cork flooring would create such a corporate feel, where carpet invites a more relaxed calm-atmosphere. Thanks and we appreciate your concern!

    – Class of 2017

  5. Reply to John – Class of 2017 (comment above): We did a considerable amount of research (as you might expect from a group of librarians!) before deciding on cork as the new atrium floor. Cork offers some great benefits over carpet and other flooring types:

    Here are a few of these:

    *Cork’s cellular structure makes it soft to walk on
    *Cork has insulating properties and remains warm in winter
    *Carpet accumulates dust, hair and dander which is hard for those with allergies. Cork is naturally hypoallergenic
    *Cork is easy to maintain and longer lasting than carpet
    *Cork absorbs sound
    *Cork is soft, yet is naturally resilient to furniture dents and heel imprints

    Further information:

    We hope the students will find that this will be an excellent choice that will enhance the space and be easy on the feet :-)


  6. I absolutely agree with John’s comment! I also want to see carpet in the Atrium post-renovation. It sounds like the decision has already been made, considering Susan’s comment, but if not, it is important to notice that many students feel the same as John.


  7. Carpet in the Atrium is an awesome idea.

    In regard to carpeting overall: Many students would also like to see the study-carrel areas of the first, fifth and seventh floors floored with carpet. We love the study-carrels and furniture, but it would be great to have carpet in those study areas (even if only rugs are added beneath the study carrels). Thanks, Susan, for allowing us to voice our thoughts.

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