Kelvin Smith Library


Kelvin Smith Library (1996)

Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH

The Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve University is the new main University Library. The site, one of the most prominent in Cleveland, is bounded on the south by Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, on the west by Wade Park, and to the northeast by the Case student center, Thwing Center. The Library is configured to relate to both of the non-parallel streets and serve as the focus for a new open space called the “Heart of Campus.”

The Library is composed of three elements: a long rectangular block facing the park, a smaller rectangular block looking north and a curved, entrance wing facing the Heart of Campus. The voids between the blocks contain two atriums and a circulation bridge.

The building is three stories above grade and one below, containing 145,000 gross square feet. It contains state-of-the-art communications networks, facilitate by large areas of raised flooring. The structure is cast-in-place concrete. The exterior is clad in Indiana Limestone. Stylistically, the Kelvin Smith Library might be called “modern classic,” referring to the Museum and Severance Hall in materials, scale, openings and character, but not in detail. The elevations contain a large amount of glass, giving a very open appearance. The design is intended to balance the demands of shaping the Heart of Campus and blending with its monumental neighbors.