John Cardinal O’Connor Memorial Library
The design and construction of the John Cardinal O’Connor Memorial Library, housed at the Bishop Hughes Archive Center at the St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, fulfilled a long time goal of the Archdiocese of New York. Originally intended to be included in the original 1998 Archive Center, it was supplanted by a refectory—thought at the time to be more important for the archives. Over time, the Archive Center began to serve as an active learning center for organizations within the Archdiocese, but the refectory got little use. In 2011, Acheson Doyle Partners Architects (ADP) was asked by the Archdiocese to renovate the wing of the building that housed the refectory to provide the Center with a new library. The library would house material that was commonly used for research material by outside historians. It was to accommodate two full time staff: a certified Archival Manager, and a priest with an extensive knowledge of the church and history.
ADP was requested by the client to design the library to be versatile and capable of expansion. As technology and research have become synonymous, the library includes a computer center that has limited access to the archives database. The book racks were custom built with casters at the base to allow them to be wheeled off and stored to the perimeter of the room so that the main space can be as a conference room with a single table, or as a reading room with two research tables occupying the center. Alternatively, a roll down projector screen and a High Definition projector installed in the ceiling allow the room to be used as a total digital archive.
During construction of the library, it became apparent that the existing building envelope suffered from thermal bridging, and did not meet contemporary library standards for the control of UV rays through windows and HVAC. Two new windows were added in the library and all existing glazing was replaced. A detail at the existing window frames was devised to eliminate thermal bridging. The existing HVAC system for the library was modified and a separate system was installed for the refectory space.
The color and materials pallet was chosen with careful consideration to the desired look and feel expressed by the client. The interior finishes are dark mahogany wood paneling, mahogany chair rails with painted gypsum walls, wood framed glazing systems and light colored porcelain tile flooring in the main library space. Carpet tile was used in supplemental areas. With natural lighting of the main space provided from all sides, energy efficient LED lighting was chosen with a comparable color temperature of 5000 Kelvin. A dropped gypsum board ceiling with insulation above contributes to the desirable acoustical properties for the library. New tables, chairs, rugs, office furniture and computer chairs were selected by ADP to complement the interior design. All bookshelves, book racks, wood paneling and wood glazing systems were custom designed.
With there still some need for a refectory—although a smaller one—an existing space in the basement was renovated to provide a full kitchen and an eating area. Construction work was completed in 2014.