Text description provided by the architects. DGBK Architects joins the University of British Columbia in celebrating the official opening of the Library Preservation and Archives (Library PARC) facility. The new Library PARC facility is an outstanding demonstration of a highly specialized library environment based on a model developed at Harvard University that extends the life of printed library collections from 30 years (in a typical library environment) to 300 years.
By using a system where the Library’s collections are stored within high-density shelving units in a thermal and humidity controlled environment, Library PARC is one of North America’s most efficient and cost effective storage facilities.
“Library PARC is key in terms of helping us house our ever-growing collections and providing innovative spaces worthy of a 21st-century research library,” says Ingrid Parent, University Librarian at UBC. “The facility’s carefully controlled environment will extend the life of the Library’s collections, ensuring their availability to current and future generations of students, scholars and lifelong learners.”
Designed to provide more than 2,200 square metres of high-density collection storage, capable of holding about 1.6 million volumes, the facility is the first of 6 possible storage modules. The facility will also house a campus-wide records management service, in addition to a small digitization area, a contained freezer area for decontamination, a staff work area and a publicly accessible reading room.
To achieve an identity for Library PARC, DGBK started to advance concepts for an architectural language while exploring the siting options. “This exploration started with the location of the facility within the Forest District of UBC and the play of light in the vertical forest,” says Robert Lange, Partner, DGBK.
The storage of materials in this facility does not follow the traditional approach of grouping books by topic but rather by book size, permitting the use of barcodes to store and retrieve them. The barcoded book is stored in a tray, which also contains a barcode and the trays are placed on the shelves, which are again barcoded. “The conceptual idea of the trees in the forest in tandem with the operational requirements of the facility – the barcode – led to the building’s design language.”
The facility consists of two main parts – a processing/administrative area and a long rectangular storage module for a combined area of 2,045 square metres. For the latter, the cladding visually references the forest and the barcode through its use of colour and depth using stained cedar on concrete. The blockwork and glazing of the processing and loading areas employs a playful solid void composition with the glazing mullions replicating a varied vertical rhythm of spacing again referencing the barcode. The void areas are used for infiltration of natural light, permitting views to the forest from various orientations. Wood elements at the entry and the sunshades on the west glazing enliven the expression of the processing area. To diminish the large volume, the facility’s massing is divided into three parts and united through the use of similar cladding materials and colours. The folded roof and wood soffit wraps over the processing area, providing a connection of the parts.
Wales McClelland Construction built the Library PARC facility with project management by UBC Properties Trust.