Project File: Sensitive repairs

March 1, 2004
The library at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, N.H.

The windows in the library at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, N.H., designed by architect Louis I. Kahn, had been leaking since the library was built in 1971. The challenge was to repair the leaks without disrupting the library's function or aesthetic value.

A $5 million, 10-month upgrade included replacing every window, cutting in conventional flashings at every level and renewing mechanical systems. To match the building's bricks, which were created in wood-fired ovens, replacements had to be custom-made by blending seven different brick types.

The project team, led by the academy's facilities department, worked closely with the library staff and students to ensure easy access and safe conditions within this well-traveled space. Students were provided with temporary storage space and carrels, and rare books and artwork were secured. In order to provide efficient light for library patrons, construction was executed two building faces at a time to keep a sufficient number of windows uncovered. The repair — which stopped the leakage, expanded the building's life span, and preserved its quality — was completed with minimal disruption to the campus, and feedback from library staff, students and alumni has been positive.

The project was designed by Boston Building Consultants (Boston). Shawmut Design and Construction (Boston) was construction manager.

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