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A haven for the digital age

University of Notre Dame,
Hesburgh Libraries Master Plan and Renovation
Notre Dame, IN

The Hesburgh Libraries Master Plan and Renovation challenged Shepley Bulfinch to fulfill Notre Dame’s vision of designing a forward-thinking academic research library fit for the 21st century.
The Hesburgh Libraries renovation project encompasses four phases—all with the elemental goal of inviting natural light into the building’s cavernous interior and integrating materials that complement the existing mid-century aesthetic. The Entrance Gallery, which spans the first and second floors, connects the main entrance and upper twelve floors through an atrium-style opening. An enhanced technology area, dubbed Technology Row, connects students to digital services and resources that complement the evolving research landscape.
The Library’s renovation provides an additional 2,000 study seats—expanding the amount of space allocated to students by over 60%.

“The renovation of the Hesburgh Library reorganizes spaces and services. It ensures that the Hesburgh Libraries can continuously evolve in order to fulfill our mission of ‘connecting people to knowledge’ and meet the changing needs for teaching, learning, and research here at Notre Dame.”

Diane Parr Walker, university librarian, University of Notre Dame
Signature materials of the original 1963 building’s mid-century design—such as marble, bronze, travertine, and rift-sawn white oak—are complemented by modern finishes.
A Scholars Lounge along the building’s public concourse can be quickly converted from an enclosed event space to an open, informal gathering room.
During construction, it was important that our work didn’t disrupt the Library’s day-to-day operations. Each phase of the project was divided into small construction sites of 3,000-5,000 sf.
Special care was taken to highlight the original “Word of Life” mural, a hand-built mosaic that spans the Library’s 12-story tower.