April 10, 2002

Uris Library Reading Room Closed for Renovation

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The Kinkeldey Room, located in Uris Library, has been closed for a major renovation scheduled to be completed in August.

Demolition of the ceiling and walls of the room began during Spring Break and have progressed as scheduled to date, according to a press release from Cornell University Library. This project, as stated in the press release, is intended to create a modern and comfortable study space.

“Essentially it is a renovation of a reading room from forty years ago,” said John Hoffmann, director of facilities planning for the Cornell University Library. “We have the opportunity to liberate the original architecture of William Henry Miller who is a quite famous architect from Ithaca.”

When the Library was constructed in 1891, the area consisted of stacks, as Hoffmann explained and that the Library was substantially smaller. He further explained that an addition to the Library in 1937 transformed the space into an area for study and quiet reading instead of book storage.

“Unfortunately, renovations in 1961 obliterated the architecture,” Hoffmann added. “We plan to remove the suspended acoustic ceiling and restore the remains of the windows on the former exterior walls. The walls were plastered flat and the ceiling was flattened. These renovations will bring back Miller’s details.”

Hoffmann further explained the hopes of the current project are to renovate the entire library. “We would love to be able to undo some of the bland renovation work done in the late 50s and 60s,” he said.

He explained that the current renovations are only part of a larger plan, however.

“We’re hoping that there will be a phase two but we don’t have money for a phase two. We’re hoping to add a mezzanine-type structure for reading.” Furthermore, Hoffmann explained that, “It will have a flavor of the A.D. White Library and showcase the William Henry Miller architecture.”

According to library administrators, the work being done in the Kinkeldey Room is an example of the theme of the entire library’s renovation. “We need to focus on creating quiet study areas and that is exactly what this project does,” Hoffmann commented.

Renovations in the Kinkeldey Room will temporarily reduce the seating capacity in Uris Library. Library administrators explained that this loss of approximately 30 seats may be noticed most especially during exams when the library sees its usage peak.

“This will be offset by additional seating recently added to the first floor of Olin,” Hoffmann explained, adding, “albeit the first floor is noisy.”

Completion of the renovations will yield a gain in seating capacity of approximately 30 seats to the entire library system, Hoffmann explained.

Commenting on recent renovations to Uris Library in the cocktail lounge, student Jenna Carroll ’03 noted, “I love the quiet study rooms.” Carroll also added, “I really think the group rooms are useful. You can talk and use the board. I used to do that every day for genetics [class].”

Many students are also looking forward to the addition of quiet study spaces.

“It was pretty noisy up there before,” said Satch Sil ’03, she added, “because of all the typing.”

Hoffmann and Cornell University Library are hopeful that renovations will also restore a more open atmosphere to the library by recreating an internal window into the Dean Room. Hoffmann stated, “It is our hope to restore the openness of the original library but this project is still small in terms of our hopes for the building as a whole.”

Library administration explains that this renovation project is funded in part by donations from the Cornell Class of ’57.

Archived article by Chris Mitchell