Cornell Fine Arts Library Renovation, Ithaca, NY, USA

The renovation of Rand Hall into the new Cornell Fine Arts Library presents a unique opportunity to create a new student space that is highly comfortable and energy-conscious, while still maintaining the vintage aesthetic of the original building and primary function of 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, and an addition of a lantern with skylights and clerestories at the roof, to introduce natural daylight into all areas.

The proposed design leaves the original steel-framed windows in-tact, with restoration as required, and adds a second insulating skin of high-performance double-glazing. The opaque facade is to be retrofitted with insulation, a result of a detailed optimization study to identify the most effective envelope measures. A facade-integrated mechanical design is proposed with heating and cooling provided by retrofitting the second level into a radiant floor system and removing the third level floor entirely. Convective fin-tube provides supplemental heating along the facades and radiant panels provide supplemental cooling in the lightly-occupied stacks. Skylight sizes and radiant panel areas were minimized as necessary, validated by a detailed CFD study, in order to meet comfort requirements, prevent direct solar radiation on books, while maintaining ample daylight and views access. Daylight sensors throughout the second level reading room and occupancy sensors in the stacks keep lighting power consumption low.

Slightly cool outside air is supplied low to the floor, near occupants, to maximize ventilation effectiveness, and is returned high, in the lantern, to efficiently pick up load with air transferring through the stacks, taking full advantage of natural stack effect, without compromising comfort.