Library Of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building Cooling Improvement Envelope Study, Rare Book Stacks

Library of Congress: Washington DC

The 2nd Floor East Main Pavilion in the Thomas Jefferson Building was enlarged in 1934 to its current configuration. The expansion included the Rare Book Reading Room and 26,300-SF of the Rare Book Stacks. This study investigated how the sensitive and limited upgrade of mechanical systems within a heritage asset could avoid damage to the historic fabric, in keeping with the spirit of a restoration project. The study was used to plan future design work and recommended investigations or testing.

Preservation goals for the stacks’ collections included a desire for cooler and drier conditions. One challenge addressed by this study was to determine if changing these ambient conditions would cause harm to the existing building envelope, the walls dividing the area from other interior space, and a mural on a wall in the Hispanic Reading Room that partially enclosed the stacks. Walls, windows, floors and roof structure were analyzed to discover anticipated design static dew point temperature profiles, and temperature profiles. Based on these analyses, a subset of building elements with increased risk were subjected to one-dimensional dynamic hygro-thermal analysis using the WUFI program to determine if transient conditions caused by variables such as rain and solar radiation would be problematic.

Photos @ Alain Jaramillo Architectural Photography

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