Folger Shakespeare Library

Folger Shakespeare Library

Location Washington, DC

Category Cultural

Exterior Rehabilitation

Home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials, as well as collections of rare Renaissance books and artwork, the Folger Shakespeare Library must be absolutely watertight. When leaks threatened the library’s book vault, Hoffmann Architects + Engineers was called in to find the cause and design the solution.

Redesign and installation of the Book Vault’s existing waterproofing and drainage systems succeeded in protecting the facility’s holdings. Hoffmann coordinated the work not only with library personnel, but also with representatives from owner Amherst College and neighboring facility directors at the Architect of the Capitol and the Library of Congress, so as to minimize disruption to building occupants and to adjoining properties.

Designed by Paul Philippe Cret, the main library building was completed in the 1930s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Adjacent to the three-story, stone-clad library is the three-story, below-ground book vault, built in 1976, and the Reading Room, completed in 1982. Hoffmann also conducted a comprehensive survey of the 72 original single-pane, steel-framed windows of eleven different types, so as to address thermal inefficiency and air/water infiltration.

In the Reading Room, moisture had damaged interior finishes at walls, windows, roofs, and skylights. Hoffmann’s investigation revealed poor roof conditions, as well as flashing and detailing issues, light well deterioration, and masonry cracks that had permitted water penetration. The firm designed and administered replacement of the 26 tiered roofs, as well as facade/window waterproofing rehabilitation, complete mortar and sealant joint replacement, maintenance access improvements, and other facility upgrades.