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Claire T. Carney Library

designLAB Architects, Austin Architects

Shared By

katie_gerfen, Hanley Wood

Project Name

Claire T. Carney Library

Project Status


Year Completed



160,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost



University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Certifications and Designations

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2017 AIA Institute Honor Award Winner in Interior Architecture

Though much loved by design enthusiasts, Brutalist buildings of the 1960s and ’70s pose unique challenges to the cities and institutions that have inherited them, and few buildings of the period are so unique (or so challenging) as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Claire T. Carney Library. Designed by Paul Rudolph and completed in 1972, the library is a massive complex of tiered concrete cantilevers—a muscular, sculptural ensemble such as only Rudolph could deliver. It has also long been in need of a serious upgrade, a dicey task that Boston-based DesignLAB Architects, working with Cambridge, Mass.–based Austin Architects, has carried off with aplomb.

Renovating 160,000 square feet of the existing interior, the team also discretely enclosed 27,000 square feet of formerly open-air space beneath the volume of Rudolph’s Science & Engineering lecture halls. With room for thousands more books, the renovation also features a new art gallery, lecture halls, and study rooms—some carved out of former stack space and rearranged for greater access to daylight.

Ever respectful of Rudolph’s Brutalist vision, the architects nonetheless have taken measures to blunt some of the building’s rougher edges: The interior now features colorful textile treatments and graphic wayfinding, and the hard concrete mini-plazas that appear throughout Rudolph’s design find a softer echo in new wood-clad lounges. All this was done for $200 per square foot, and to rave reviews from students, twice as many of whom now frequent the library.

Project Credits
Project: Claire T. Carney Library at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Mass.
Client: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Architect/Interior Designer: DesignLAB Architects, Boston . Robert Miklos, FAIA (principal-in-charge); Ben Youtz, AIA (project manager); Kelly Haigh, AIA (project architect)
Associate Architects: Austin Architects, Cambridge, Mass. . Jonathan Austin (principal-in-charge)
Structural Engineer: RSE Associates
Mechanical Engineer: Fitzmeyer & Tocci Associates
Electrical Engineer: Garcia Galuska DeSousa
Civil Engineer: Nitsch Engineering
Geotechnical Engineer: GZA
Construction Manager/General Contractor: Consigli Construction Co.
Landscape Architect: Richard Burck Associates
Lighting Designer: Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting
Furnishings: Leslie Saul & Associates
Graphic Design: Roll Barresi & Associates
Size: 155,000 square feet (renovation); 27,000 square feet (addition)
Cost: $34 million

To see the rest of ARCHITECT's coverage of the 2017 AIA Institute Honor Awards, click here.

Project Description

designLAB recently completed construction on the addition to the Paul Rudolph-designed Claire T. Carney Library at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The University's goal for the project was to "transform the 1972 library into a modern hub of knowledge creation, dissemination, and interaction," envisioning the library "as the intellectual and scholarly hub of the campus."

designLAB architects was responsible for the 160,000 SF renovation and designing the 27,000 SF, two-story addition. The expansion is located directly beneath the Science & Engineering Lecture Halls (also by Rudolph) and serves as a center for social interaction and intellectual discourse. The addition provides the library with a new multi-purpose entry to the building, complete with a gallery, a new main circulation desk, an adaptable lecture hall, a cafe and gathering area, as well as group study spaces. The library expansion accommodates 212,500 volumes to suit the grwoth of the library collection over the next 20 years.
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