Transforming a tired building into a landmark destination, Virginia Commonwealth University’s award-winning addition and renovation of James Branch Cabell Library reinvigorated the 1970 facility. Now the Monroe Park campus facility offers a 21st century learning and study environment, double the seating, and new amenities with the addition of 93,000 sf and renovation of 63,000 sf.

Completed in December 2015, construction of the $50.8 million LEED Silver-certified project was phased so the library could remain open during the project. The modernization includes a soaring atrium with a grand staircase, an outdoor reading porch on the fourth floor, an enlarged Starbucks cafe, 1,500 additional seats, collaborative study spaces, media studios, a multimedia laboratory, a 300-seat theater, a “makerspace” lab, and a dedicated faculty and graduate research center. The addition consumed an existing service courtyard.

As the project geotechnical engineer, Schnabel provided a number of services, including subsurface exploration, soil laboratory testing, and a report with recommendations for the design of foundations, floor slab support, earthwork, and basement walls.

Photo: © Robert Benson Photography