Tulane University has developed a Hazard Mitigation and Build-Back Program in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to construct two additional floors on top of the existing Howard-Tilton Memorial Library building. This addition will house elements of the library that were formerly located in its basement, as well as elements from the damaged lower stack level of Jones Hall. These areas were flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The new floors will provide replacement of lost library spaces as well as the replacement and relocation of the building’s primary mechanical and electrical systems, which were also destroyed. The principal architect on the project has been Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, a firm based in New Orleans.
The hazard mitigation component of the program is addressed by rebuilding the flooded spaces at a high elevation. The build-back component is addressed by reconstructing the same spaces for similar uses, adjusted in scale only to accommodate modern building codes and regulations.
The build-back and hazard mitigation purposes of the building addition are linked to the library’s landmark collections salvage and recovery efforts that include its Tulane Libraries Recovery Center based at leased space adjacent to Tulane’s off site library storage facility at 900 S. Jefferson Davis Parkway, about two miles from the university’s uptown campus. Its programs have handled more than 1 million items from restoration, donations, and initial replacement purchases. Space in the Recovery Center has also provided temporary storage for many of these materials, until permanent space can be provided in new library 5th and 6th floor addition.
The building addition will provide only the space lost after Katrina. New space needed for collections growth and more learning areas will need to be addressed in a separate project.
Rebuilt spaces for collections, staff, and library users will retain their original square footage (adjusted for today’s building code requirements) and their original shelving configurations.
Tulane has changed since August 2005 and so has its main library: in its collections, in its staffing, and in its focus on managing and delivering a wider range of services and materials. Some former library collections are much larger today than just prior to Katrina. This is especially so with the library’s rebuilt collection of more than 37,000 audio and 17,000 audio visual recordings, which is four times larger. Some are smaller and this can be seen with print format government documents, since many older and historic documents could not be quickly replaced.
Moreover, while there were many materials lost after Katrina, the library’s general collections continued to grow, especially on its existing upper floors 2-4 where shelves were full before the storm. Thus some reconfiguration of spaces within the library would have been inevitable.
The design of the building addition needed to reflect these changes but within FEMA’s build back restrictions. Therefore the addition’s space plan draws upon areas that were separate in the library’s former basements and combines them in broader themes.
To accomplish this, the plan consolidates the shelving types, open spaces, offices, and service points formerly in the library’s basements into a flexible, efficient arrangement. One example will be a new combination of media, music, art, and architecture collections together on the 6th floor. Another example on the 6th floor will be a reconstructed microforms collection (comprised of facsimile collections of rare documents, manuscripts, and newspaper archives) located on the same floor as a large closed stacks area nearby that will house the library’s rare books (which will address the loss of space for special collections suffered in Jones Hall).