Barton Malow

Joe and Rika Mansueto Library

University of Chicago

Aerial view of Mansueto Library glass dome

Bringing together striking design and one-of-a-kind functionality, the University of Chicago’s new Mansueto Library provides a unique reading space while carefully protecting and preserving 3.5 million volumes of rare book collections below-grade. Connected to the existing library by a new bridge, the massive glass dome was erected on an oval footprint and is the only system visible above-grade. The Library has an ultimate project depth of an impressive 58-feet below-grade with a slurry wall foundation system for increased protection and preservation.

Enabling research worldwide, the library also houses state-of-the-art conservation and digitization laboratories, which aid in the preservation of rare materials in their original form and through digitization. Other components include a large multi-use digital room, a special collections room, circulation service center, a grand reading room, and office spaces.

Unique Construction Methods

Barton Malow self-performed the installed of the high-density automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). The ASRS requires just one-seventh of the space of regular stacks and, via five robotic cranes, can retrieve materials from its 24,000 bins within minutes of a request.

Erection of the ASRS required complex phasing and logistics; entry and exit of large items once the main slab was poured proved to be a significant challenge. All materials necessary to construct the racking system were stored in the basement to allow for the dome and ground floor slab to complete creating a bottlenecked setting during construction. Our team utilized a special leave-out, with a platform and hoist at the smoke evacuation duct penetration through the slurry wall. At the end of the rack installation, the large platform lifts, a forklift, and the crane were dismantled to fit through the opening.