The modern yet complementary addition employs traditional materials featured in the campus context – including cast stone masonry, slate, and brick – ensuring that the historic design of the library remains dominant.

The original Sweet Briar College master plan was executed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1927. Cochran Library was one of the first buildings constructed as part of that original plan. Its handsome central reading room remains the only fully intact Cram-designed interior on campus.

VMDO’s addition to Cram’s library aims to respect the architect’s vision for the building by strategically locating new programs around the original core of the structure while preserving its historically significant elevations and major public spaces. “Liberating” the Library from a cramped 1965 addition that buried much of Cram’s design, the addition reinvigorates sight lines to campus, enhances daylighting, and opens up the original architecture while preserving the building’s continued use as a library. The modern yet complementary addition employs traditional materials featured in the campus context – including cast stone masonry, slate, and brick – ensuring that the historic design of the library remains dominant.

Compact shelving, hidden below the new west terrace addition, pulls the bulk of the collection out of the core of the historic building – opening up the original architecture and restoring the grandeur of the 1929 spaces. A vaulted gallery along the front of the entry façade has been reopened as a 24-hour study area with student art adorning the arcade’s niches.

Sweet Briar College challenged VMDO to design an addition that would complement a library held in high esteem by a strong alumnae base while also propelling the College into the evolving landscape of learning space design.

The original Sweet Briar College master plan was executed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1927. Cochran Library was one of the first buildings constructed as part of that original plan. Its handsome central reading room remains the only fully intact Cram-designed interior on campus.

VMDO’s addition to Cram’s library aims to respect the architect’s vision for the building by strategically locating new programs around the original core of the structure while preserving its historically significant elevations and major public spaces. “Liberating” the Library from a cramped 1965 addition that buried much of Cram’s design, the addition reinvigorates sight lines to campus, enhances daylighting, and opens up the original architecture while preserving the building’s continued use as a library. The modern yet complementary addition employs traditional materials featured in the campus context – including cast stone masonry, slate, and brick – ensuring that the historic design of the library remains dominant.

Compact shelving, hidden below the new west terrace addition, pulls the bulk of the collection out of the core of the historic building – opening up the original architecture and restoring the grandeur of the 1929 spaces. A vaulted gallery along the front of the entry façade has been reopened as a 24-hour study area with student art adorning the arcade’s niches.

Sweet Briar College challenged VMDO to design an addition that would complement a library held in high esteem by a strong alumnae base while also propelling the College into the evolving landscape of learning space design.

The modern yet complementary addition employs traditional materials featured in the campus context – including cast stone masonry, slate, and brick – ensuring that the historic design of the library remains dominant.
 “Liberating” the Library from a cramped 1965 addition that buried much of Cram’s design, the addition reinvigorates sight lines to campus, enhances daylighting, and opens up the original architecture while preserving the building’s continued use as a library.
The modern yet complementary addition employs traditional materials featured in the campus context – including cast stone masonry, slate, and brick – ensuring that the historic design of the library remains dominant.
Its handsome central reading room remains the only fully intact Cram-designed interior on campus.
 A vaulted gallery along the front of the entry façade has been reopened as a 24-hour study area with student art adorning the arcade’s niches.

“The brilliance of the design and material choices that revealed the segments of the historic Cram building lost for decades due to a poor addition project in the 1960’s has established the newly renovated library facility as the most popular and effectively used building on campus. Through the collaboration with VMDO, Sweet Briar achieved its goals of a modern, welcoming, flexible and functional library that will serve us for the next 100 years.”

– John Jaffe Director of Integrated Information Systems/CIO, Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar College challenged VMDO to design an addition that would complement a library held in high esteem by a strong alumnae base while also propelling the College into the evolving landscape of learning space design.
Sweet Briar College challenged VMDO to design an addition that would complement a library held in high esteem by a strong alumnae base while also propelling the College into the evolving landscape of learning space design.

Client: Sweet Briar College

Location: Lynchburg, VA

Discipline: Libraries

Completion: 2014

Size: 54,000 SF Addition & Renovation