C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Ensuring a monumental collection sees the light of day



2007

Client:
University of California, Berkeley

Location:
Berkeley, CA

Market:
Education

The C.V. Starr Library epitomizes the University of California, Berkeley's prominence as a worldwide hub for East Asian study. The $47 million, 68,000-square-foot building contains one of the country's most comprehensive collections of materials from East Asian languages, commanding attention in the heart of campus. And Harris & Associates lent its expertise, from pre-construction through completion, to ensure the project lived up to its billing.

The Starr Library's construction was monumental: It was the first freestanding structure on an American university campus to house an academic East Asian collection. Today the Starr is home to more than 900,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese and Korean materials, including woodblock prints, rare maps and scrolls, political posters and Buddhist scriptures.

In 2005, Harris set up trailers on site with the talented staff needed to coordinate pre-construction services, from cost estimating to contractor prequalification. During the construction phase, Harris stepped up to provide full construction management services and quality assurance.

Core Elements

Internationally acclaimed Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects designed the Starr as a symmetrical box broken by light. The austere concrete and granite structure features:

  • Massive bronze screens—120 feet by 35 feet—sand cast in China
  • An expansive north-facing skylight
  • A cantilevered stone staircase that stretches from the top to the bottom floors
  • A pool of river rocks on an outside rooftop
  • A rare book vault with temperature and humidity controls and modern security measures
  • A reading room with more than 4,400 current periodicals
  • A striking circulation desk made of natural-edge walnut

Beyond the Blueprints

More than a striking—and significant—addition to the UC Berkeley campus, the Starr Library stands as a study in sustainable construction. Inside and out, the building features several environmentally sensitive design details. Occupancy sensors and perforated metal screens behind bronze grills minimize interior cooling loads, while bamboo flooring, native plantings and stormwater recharge basins help reduce the structure’s environmental impact.


The $47 million, 68,000-square-foot building contains one of the country's most comprehensive collections of materials from East Asian languages