UW Suzzallo Library Renovation



Mahlum Architects, w/Cardwell/Thomas & Associates


Turner Construction Company







325,000 ft²


Structural Engineer

Seattle, WA

UW Suzzallo Library Renovation

Originally designed in 1925 and expanded in multiple phases throughout the first half of the 20th century, the historic campus library at the University of Washington required several seismic retrofit approaches to unify the library’s original building with its additions and bring it up to code. MKA tailored the structural solutions to the specific wings of the building. In the original historic reading room, steel-braced frames were designed and installed within existing cavities, completely hidden from view. The central wing, constructed in the 1940s and used as an anchor to stitch all of the wings together for the overall seismic retrofit, was strengthened using exposed and hidden steel bracing. MKA worked closely with the architect and university to develop details for the exposed seismic bracing consistent with steel detailing when the building was initially constructed. In the “stacks area”—a concrete addition built in the 1960s—the steel bracing was fully exposed and celebrated by the architectural design. Most of these strengthening elements were unobtrusive, and sometimes hidden, to improve performance without compromising the library’s historic features. The techniques used reduced the need for intrusive structural additions by 50% and cut costs by 30% compared to more traditional options.


Award of Merit - 2006 Region Design Awards - American Institute of Architects, Northwest and Pacific Region Chapter

Honorable Mention - 2002 Distinguished Project Awards - Northwest Construction Consumer Council

Winner, Remodel/Tenant Improvement Over $15 Million - Construction Excellence Awards - Associated General Contractors of Washington

Winner, Renovation - Library Building Awards - American Institute of Architects/American Library Association

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