More than one million visitors a year stream through the doors of Olin Library, located in the heart of Cornell’s campus. 

The eight-story, 250,000 square foot library was originally constructed in the late 1950s and serves as a primary repository for Cornell’s immense library collections. Like any 46-year-old facility, the library also needs an upgrade to meet the scholarship demands of a modern university and to resolve serious life-safety and environmental problems. Phase 1 of the project included 112,000 SF on the top 5 floors, but was put on hold after the design development phase due to Cornell’s hold on projects in 2008.


HOLT’s design included the renovation of Olin to meet new curriculum needs and the changing work and study habits of faculty and students. Bringing it into the digital age and supporting technology driven scholarship; the project was designed to transform the building to accommodate seminars and classroom instruction as well as collaborative and quiet independent study along with library stacks for over a million volumes. The plan also replaced aged electrical systems, updates data and electrical distribution, and access ports thereby vastly improving the use of computers and other technology. Technology and furniture integration was made a priority.


In 2013, the renovations to the 5th floor Reading Room and 2nd floor offices were completed and were a result of this initial study. The 2nd floor stack area was converted into department offices including conference spaces for the University Librarian. Despite the low waffle slab ceiling deck, an uplifting and enjoyable work area was created for the Library systems IT department. The graduate reading room is now a peaceful, quiet reading study area, fully equipped with new technology, furniture and lighting reflect the high level of study of the graduate students.


For more information about this project contact Cindy Kaufman, AIA:

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