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Rotch renovations may end this month

By Joey Marquez

The School of Architecture and Planning's Rotch Library has added 22,000 square feet -- a tripling in size -- in an expansion and renovation effort initiated 18 months ago. The newly constructed addition is already in use, and renovations to the older sections will be completed later this month or early in December.

The addition to the library employs a "unique form of construction," said Director of Libraries Jay K. Lucker. The floors of the new section are suspended from the roof beams, rather than supported from the ground, as is the case in most buildings. This was done to maintain the truck loading area, and to maximize available space.

Jean P. de Monchaux, dean of architecture and planning, said there were many problems with the library, including intense overcrowding, a lack of climate control, and a lack of space for books.

He added that the library "closed on certain occasions, because of the hot environment." Strong sunlight came through the windows, he said.

According to Lucker, Rotch was originally built in 1938 as a reading room for up to 30 architecture students. It was approximately 9000 square feet in area, and contained books, plans and historical documents.

When Lucker arrived at MIT in 1975, the president and provost at that time asked him to make an "assessment of library space."

He found that "additional space for Rotch and general space for storage of library materials" were the two greatest problems.

He brought his findings to the administration, which investigated possible places for the new library. After careful consideration, the "most feasible" idea was to "maximize the existing library," Lucker said.

MIT took on the project, which has an estimated cost of $6 million. The Department of Architecture helped meet some of the cost by soliciting donations from alumni.

MIT settled on a design proposed by Schwartz/Silver Architects of Boston, after interviewing five other proposals in the spring of 1988.

According to de Monchaux, the Department of Architecture is willing to rename the library after any donor who gives a large sum towards the project. If the library were renamed, the reading room would retain the "Rotch" title.

A formal dedication will be held in the spring.