Hayden Library / Kennedy & Violich Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. The re-design of MIT’s Hayden Library transforms the 1951 modernist repository for post-WWII collections into a dynamic and inclusive learning space for collaboration and innovative research. The ‘Research Crossroads’ concept highlights the potential for new modes of thinking at the intersection of digital and analog collections and analysis.
A pair of two-story pavilions—one glass and one wood—introduces a mediating scale into the undifferentiated volume of the original reading room. Where the pavilions cross, a new sculptural stair and elevator establish z-axis, breaking through an existing floor slab to provide a direct vertical connection to all levels.
The 24-hour accessible ground floor includes a cafe and flexible event space as well as digital collaboration rooms, intimate study spaces, and digital tools housed in a glass and wood volumes. Translucent curtains, digital screens, movable furniture, and whiteboards encourage students to ‘hack’ the library, reconfiguring spaces to fit their needs. The reimagined second floor builds on existing building strengths to create a restful, quiet space with privileged river and skyline views.
The redesigned Lipchitz Courtyard—disused for decades due to inaccessibility and exposure — establishes a dynamic central green space and extends library activity out into a shaded and intimately scaled indoor/outdoor space, bounded by natural plantings, curving wood benches and carefully sited sculptures.
A new three-season pavilion connects to the Courtyard Café and completes a fully accessible cloister around the courtyard. Custom-milled wood panels incorporate acoustic control and extend the courtyard’s katsura tree canopy patterns across the pavilion ceiling.