The University of Chicago, along with structural engineer Halvorson and Partners  and architect Murphy/Jahn , celebrated the recent groundbreaking for the Mansueto Library . This subterranean addition to the Regenstein Library will house a state-of-the-art automated retrieval system for the university’s archives within a single volume (60-foot-deep extrusion of a 120-by-240-foot elliptical footprint) and be crowned by a glass-domed reading room at grade. The new library’s location is the former site of a particle accelerator facility where the first atom was split.
“The 60 foot high foundation wall system is the key for creating this underground volume of nearly 1 million cubic feet,” said Jim Swanson, principal at Halvorson and Partners. “We devised a system that was fairly straightforward – an elliptically arranged series of tie-back slurry walls linked at grade by capping ring beam. Halvorson and Partners skillfully and resourcefully integrated this system with the complex existing below grade conditions, which include foundations from an adjacent building, roadway sub-grade, varying bedrock elevations, utilities, and more.”
Holding more than 3.5 million volumes, the underground library racks will be 50 feet tall and patrons who request volumes via the Internet will receive them within minutes through the automated retrieval system. Mansueto Library, set to open in 2010, will enable the university to store all of its research materials on campus.
The library will be topped by a reading room and publication preservation facilities housed under a clear span dome, which is to be executed by a Werner Sobek Ingenieure (WSI) .
“We designed the reading room’s long-span floor structure at grade to clear the archive volume below,” Swanson said. “We also orchestrated the interface between the dome structure and the foundation wall ring beam. Working closely with WSI, the contractor and the entire design team, we designed, detailed, and coordinated brackets for each unique condition where the dome steel roof framing members meet grade. Collaboration was crucial to realize this intricate form.”