2017 AIA Chicago Citation of Merit - Interior Architecture Award
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) recently held its 82nd World Library and Information Congress in Columbus. While the main conference venue was the Greater Columbus Convention Center, satellite meetings were held at the headquarters of Dublin, Ohio-based Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC). This global library cooperative supports thousands of libraries, making information more accessible and useful to people worldwide.
The timing could not have been more perfect as OCLC had just completed a $10 million renovation of their atrium, and this was an opportunity to show it off to “the world.” The transformation completely revamped the atrium and entry area. Extending the existing building envelope outward added 3,500 square feet of interior space, and an elevated floor was installed, adding another 500 square feet. The north edge of the atrium included a new signature canopy to make a memorable first impression on visitors. This statement piece provided several design challenges as it was unusually large, with a sharply angled geometry and cantilevered beams extending in multiple directions.
The prominent feature of the renovated space is the open, cantilevered monumental staircase. The first run of the stair is unique as it includes a bleacher-like area where OCLC employees and visitors can sit, relax and take in the view of this beautiful, open space—the design of the stair required thick, welded steel shapes, rather than traditional stringers and risers. Due to the flexible, cantilevered geometry, special attention was taken to designing rigidly welded connections. With this design, the different elements are able to effectively act as a single structural member, controlling deflection and providing a sturdy pathway far above the atrium floor below.
Unique elements, such as the stairs and canopy, take significantly more effort and iteration than standard designs and can make or break a project of this scope. SMBH’s team worked tirelessly through all the design challenges and provided unique solutions to make this atrium a place for all to enjoy.