Renovation project unites university library

When the original Eastern Illinois University's Booth Library in Charleston, IL - built in 1948 - was renovated in 1968, the results were not quite satisfactory to the students and staff. An addition that closed off an entrance and made the interior darker was not conducive to studying or navigating throughout the building efficiently. The architects of Holabird & Root in Chicago, IL, recently were commissioned to fix the prior renovation and make the 134,200-square-foot space more compatible with the people who utilize the facility every day.

"The original library is a gem - an [Indiana] limestone and brick collegiate gothic building with cathedral-like ceilings," said James Baird, AIA of Holabird & Root. "In 1968, an addition was just slapped on to the back of the building. It closed down the main entry and made a less grand side entry for the entire library."

To make the library both more accessible and more appealing to the eye, Holabird & Root recreated the original entry and restored the south portion of the 1948 building.

"For the 1968 renovated parts of the building, we did a lot of demolition to open up the atrium space and make it more functional," said Baird. "For the work done in 1948, we restored the stone and woodwork."

The firm added a second south entry and relocated offices to the south addition to free the rest of the library for reading and stacks. In total, they added 12,800 square feet of space. They also opened up an atrium on the south side to bring light into the library and provide a central study/ circulation area.

"The south facade of the original building was limestone," said Baird. "The 1968 renovation obstructed it, so we created an atrium which exposed the original wall."

Once the demolition work was completed, limestone - all from Indiana - had to be restored in the open foyer as well as the interior and exterior walls, to take years off the stone's appearance. Stobeck Masonry Inc. of Morton, IL, was called in to restore the stone.

"We restored the interior limestone and the north-side exterior limestone," said Keith Moser of Stobeck Masonry. "The entrance included a hallway, a big open area and 15- to 20-foot walls. We restored all that."

For the interior entrance, Stobeck Masonry used ProSoCo Limestone Restorer and a pressure washer. The north-side walls called for ProSoCo Hard Surface Cleaner and a pressure washer. The company had no challenges restoring the limestone, which took about three months.

"It actually came out better than we expected," said Moser. "The stone was more uniform than we thought it would be."

The full renovation - which took about two years and ended in the beginning of this year - was met with a positive response by the students and staff.

"The students had to suffer through the construction, and they were getting grumpy because it was completed a little late," said Baird. "But one student said that all the skepticism ended with a drop of a jaw. The students saw the whole thing through the before to the after, and got to see what a dramatic change it was. Now more people are drawn there, to study and to sit in the open spaces."


Eastern Illinois University Booth Library, Charleston, IL

Renovation Architect: Holabird & Root, Chicago, IL
General Contractor: Williams Brothers Construction Co., Peoria, IL
Restoration Subcontractor: Stobeck Masonry Inc., Morton, IL
Restoration Products: ProSoCo, Lawrence, KS

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