Interior heart of the University of Washington, serving as

Interior
Atrium Renovation, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, Miller Hull Partnership,
2013.

Odegaard Undergraduate Library is
located at the heart of the University of Washington, serving as a focal point
in undergraduate instruction, learning and technology. Opened in 1972, the
library was named after Charles E. Odegaard, the UW President Emeritus, geared
towards meeting the large-scale necessities of undergraduate students within a university
setting.

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Starting in 2012, a $16.575 million
project, funded by the State of Washington, was scheduled for renovation of the
Interior atrium of the library. Led by the Design team from Miller Hull Partnership,
the renovation pushed for efficient optimization of the central space. The main
staircase was replaced with a reduced profile staircase for further accessibility,
as well as the creation of 3-story atrium which increased natural lighting and generated
informal seating for undergraduates.

            Renovation development and
construction increased active formal learning spaces through the addition of
three-classrooms that were multi-faceted in terms of how and when the spaces
would be used. Addition of a consultation area for research and writing, a
surge in spaces for student collaboration, more study rooms and zoned off quiet
spaces all encompassed the architects/design team’s intentions for enhancing
the Odegaard Undergraduate Library.

            Entering into the space, immediately
inhabitants recognize the modernistic style of the interior space. The use of a
pastel color palette enhances this experience with a clear distinction from the
multiple glass facades, brick wall and wood finishes. The newly renovated
atrium space immediately creates natural lighting that is best seen on a sunny
day in Seattle emphasizing the most public of spaces within the library. This
new installation delineates the artificial lighting that is experienced on each
floor of the more intimate spaces.

Distinctive qualities of the space
are immediately noticed as well. As one travels through each level, the
materiality and enclosure changes, emphasizing the transition from public to
private, from loud to quiet and changes in the amount of technology available.
All of this can be seen from the bottom of the atrium. Where the first floor is
open, the third floor in completely sealed off in glass—a metaphor for private,
silent enclosure while still being visible from below to welcome undergraduates
to inhabit the space.

When analyzing Miller Hull
Architect’s design intentions for the renovation of the Interior Atrium of
Odegaard Undergraduate Library, the intentions and realization are un-mistakenly
visible if one were to see a before and after image. Proposing more efficient optimization
of the previous space, through the minimization of the central staircase,
creation of an open 3-story atrium, additional active formal leaning spaces as
well as a brand-new consultation area for research and writing, more spaces for
student collaboration and group study rooms and more quiet rooms all and surely
did so. When inhabited, it is instantaneously noticeable that all the spaces
that were added through the renovation are being used and shared by a plethora
of different undergraduates every day.

A few unexpected and surely
positive outcomes of this renovation is the mass influx of people on a daily
basis taking advantage of all the new resources available in the Library. This
mass people density can also be received as a negative consequence because of
the inability of the renovated space to sufficiently cater to all of the needs
of the people, most visible during the last few weeks of any given quarter.
Nonetheless, the renovated interior atrium provides a comfortable contrast
between artificial lighting in more private spaces while natural lighting highlights
the new staircase circulation and public space. Realization of the spaces came
in literal construction of barriers, walls, and removal of them as well to delineate
private and public spaces and the functional use of them. Incorporating
different materials to construct a modernistic style in the space as well.

Overall, the Interior Atrium
Renovation of Odegaard Undergraduate Library successfully realized the architect’s
intentions and vision to better the experience of undergraduates while
increasing the resources available to suffice the needs of the ever growing and
changing student body.