Barton Malow

Joe and Rika Mansueto Library

University of Chicago

Aerial view of Mansueto Library glass dome - University of Chicago Mansueto Library construction project

Bringing together striking design and one-of-a-kind functionality, the construction of the Mansueto Library provides the University of Chicago with 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 installation 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 for the University of Chicago required complex phasing and logistics throughout construction. 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.

To see more of our higher education construction portfolio, from the University of Chicago to Penn State, click here.