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Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library

Watson Tate Savory

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tsavory, Watson Tate Savory, Inc.

Project Name

Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library


University of South Carolina main campus

Project Status


Year Completed



University of South Carolina


  • : Newcomb & Boyd
  • Structural Engineer: 4SE
  • Civil Engineer: BP Barber

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description

In designing a special collections addition to a university library originally designed by Edward Durell Stone, one primary challenge was to provide a solution that would celebrate the library’s valuable holdings while respecting the original design. Stringent security and environmental requirements posed additional challenges. By introducing a bridge/connector between old and new, these requirements as well as sensitivity to the original architecture were simultaneously addressed. Pulled away from the original building, the addition was consciously designed as an abstracted form, in counterpoint to the original design. By placing the addition at the south-facing rear, a separate, yet highly visible presence for the addition was also established.

Entering via a new bridge through the main level of the existing library, visitors arrive on the top floor of the addition which contains the public functions of this three story structure. Two groups occupy the addition, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, and the South Carolina Political Collections. These departments share a lobby, reading room and large meeting room on the public floor, organized in sequence, on axis with the bridge. Large expanses of glazing are introduced between each of these functions to maintain daylight and views without compromising sensitive security requirements. Flanking these three common spaces are a series of seminar rooms and executive offices, as well as a large gallery either side, for each department. Moving onto the lower floors, daylight is decreased in response to the sensitive nature of the stored documents, and ultimately eliminated on the lowest level. The level below the main level contains processing spaces and staff offices, as well as the library’s digitization lab, which houses a large format Zeutschel scanner, used by both departments. The lowest level is approximately 50% below grade and contains 15,000 SF of compact shelving for storage of the collections. The stack level is maintained at 60 degrees and 40% relative humidity. A large service elevator connects the Reading Room control desk with the lower stacks for quick retrieval of materials.

The addition’s brick base and stone cap matches the base of the existing building in materials and height. The exterior skin of the addition uses white metal wall panels above the base to complement, but not copy, the white Georgia Marble panels on the Edward Durrell Stone building. The panels are broken at the corners with thin vertical slots of curtainwall creating a reveal in the façade and articulating the corners. The large meeting room and the processing work rooms below are at the center three bays on the south face of the building. These three bays project beyond the main body of the building and are wrapped in curtainwall with detached columns holding a broad overhang at the roof to control sunlight. This projected “window” to the south looks over the garden and will be the primary expression along the public way when the adjacent old dorms are removed in the future.

This LEED Gold Certified building includes many sustainable features, including fritted glass and sunshades to reduce solar heat gain while allowing views from all occupied spaces. All of the stormwater that falls on the site runs through a filtering manhole to reduce contaminates before leaving the site, and a white roof reflects the heat from the sun. Fire department access is gained through a reinforced turf, which allows the site to remain 90% pervious. The landscaping was designed with drip irrigation and native plants, which reduced water demand by 55%. Low flow plumbing fixtures resulted in over 40% water savings from the code compliant building. During construction, many sustainable steps were taken to reduce this building’s environmental impact. 97% of an old dorm that was removed for the project was recycled. By the end of construction, 94% of the construction waste was recycled and therefore diverted from the landfill. Most of the building materials were either manufactured from recycled materials, were low-voc emitting, or were obtained from local sources. The employees of the building have been inspired to live more sustainably. Of the 17 employees of the building, 10 walk, bike, or ride shared transportation to the building. They remain stringent about recycling and living up to the sustainable example set by the building.
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