The John M. Olin Library on Cornell University’s Ithaca, NY, campus houses research materials in the humanities and social sciences. Erdman Anthony provided fire protection and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) design services for the $10 million renovation of the eight-story, 112,000-square-foot library.
The library was built in 1961 and needed of critical life-safety upgrades to facilitate proposed programming renovations to the various library support spaces. The initial phase of this multi-phased project was to upgrade the fire-safety systems completely. Fire-suppression and detection systems and fire-rated assemblies were added at the building’s various means of egress.
A new water service and fire-pump, new combination standpipe/sprinkler riser system, new automatic sprinkler zones, and an air sampling smoke detection system throughout the collections were among the fire protection systems added.
Besides providing full coverage throughout the fully occupied building, one of the prime goals of the new fire sprinkler and standpipe systems was to prevent corrosion and the deterioration of water within the systems. The librarians made a point of noting that it is much easier to restore a collection that has been exposed to clean water. To facilitate the installation of a new electric-drive fire-pump, the existing emergency generator and building loads were evaluated to confirm that the additional fire-pump load could be supported. A new external duct bank was designed to route emergency-power cables from the location of the generator to the fire-pump room.
The MEP upgrades, along with associated architectural renovations, were performed to improve the facility's fire-safety and to bring the building into compliance with current building codes. The construction design team worked with library and university staff to develop a comprehensive phasing plan that would allow the building to remain occupied during construction.
Since the scope of the architectural renovations and environmental removals were limited to upgrades needed to support the project’s fire-safety goals, extensive field work and coordination between design and construction teams were required.