Modern universities are at the intersection of research and education. They have evolved as the place where faculty are both educator and investigator, and students are on campus to learn as well as assist with research. The Science and Engineering Library and Laboratories at Northwestern University is a bold example of this intersection.
Northwestern University has developed one of the largest research endowments in the country, which translates to expanded research space needs. The campus has evolved over time and some buildings built in previous decades occupy the site best suited for today's development. Built in 1973, the Seeley G. Mudd Library had served as one of the busiest library spaces on campus and adjacent to a group of research buildings, was the best location to fulfill the growing research space needs of the campus.
To build a large research building on the site of a smaller outdated structure required creative design and engineering. The 1970s building had been built upon a series of piers too close together for new caissons, so the existing foundation and superstructure were left standing and enveloped within a new building above and on all sides. The low floor-to-floor ratio was resolved by placing interstitial space between the old structure and new, providing for current height requirements.
The predominantly glass north façade of the new building looks upon a newly created research quad, providing presence for the building and open space view for the library and lobby. The east façade is terraced at the fifth floor looking east to Lake Michigan. The west façade is smooth limestone with vertical window openings cut as a gesture to the 1941 building immediately to the west.
By embracing the diverse programs of research and library in combined space, the building encourages interaction of researchers, research associates and students while providing space for study and investigation. Students pass by state-of-the-art research space and share a lobby and study space with research associates and faculty.