Sasaki initially worked with Tecnológico de Monterrey, a leading university in Monterrey, Mexico, to transform their original 1969 library building into a more relevant and collaborative academic hub. During the course of the study, it was discovered that the building was in need of significant seismic upgrades that would be cost prohibitive and would severely limit program development. The University then asked the team to collaborate with them to design a building that will become the leading academic library in Mexico.
The new library, situated on the site of the previous library at the center of the historic campus precinct, needed to accommodate a much larger building program in the same footprint as the old building. This location would help preserve the historic landscapes of the Jardin de las Carreras and the University’s Founders Memorial Plaza, which bookend the library site to the East and West.
Programmatically, the building had to house 150,000 existing book volumes, combine two special collections libraries, including the notable Cervantina collection, create new teaching laboratories, and provide much needed study space for individuals and groups in the form of a learning commons, collaborative study space, reading rooms, and individual study and research spaces. Other programs included student life spaces, food and beverage outlets, a makerspace, and the University bookstore.
The transparent new building structure sits at the heart of the campus like a treehouse in the middle of the campus forest. Channeling two major pedestrian arteries of the campus, the building is lifted from the ground, creating a large shaded plaza for the campus. The plaza is activated by the student life-related programs located in the spaces that touch down on the ground level.
In contrast with the introverted old library, the building turns itself inside out, making its programs visible and accessible from the outside. Its circulation originates at the covered plaza, and reaches into the library via stairs and escalators lining the outdoor courtyard at the building’s center. Movement throughout the library is fluid, unfolding both inside and outside the building; multiple routes allow visitors to meander and discover its programs and spaces.
To facilitate flexibility over time, the design features an open floor plan layout; floor-high belt trusses support the building’s floor plates, freeing spaces of columns at critical areas, and tying together the vertical cores and façade perimeter. Cantilevers reaching 60 feet in length help suspend the building over the covered plaza. Double-height spaces with alternating mezzanines create diagonal views across the interior courtyard, displaying people and activities at every level.
One of the large collaborative spaces is populated by “book boxes”—quiet study and meeting rooms lined inside and out by books. Terraces above the boxes serve as lounges for meeting and relaxation. The discovery sequence around the library culminates at its sky terrace facing the Jardin de Las Carreras. This space provides a unique vista of the campus forest, the city and Monterrey’s most iconic background: the Cerro de la Silla mountain.
This project received LEED Gold certification in 2018.