O’Neill opens renovated 5th floor

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Completing a multi-year, phased renovation is as much a time for relief as it is a time for celebration.  That is certainly true for the 5th floor of O’Neill Library, which started its renovation before the pandemic in 2019 and finishes in early Fall of 2021. The construction is now complete, and the floor and its collections are available to visitors. All that remains is for new furniture to be delivered; delays in shipping mean that is likely to be completed in October.

The first phase of the project began by tearing down an unused server room and turning it into a 3,000 square foot study space with temporary furniture. Staff made decisions on the final design and furnishings based on usage of the temporary space.

Computer rendering of student study space. There are low cushioned chairs, tall chairs at a bar, tall chairs at two-person tables, and lower wheeled chairs at conference tables. In the background are glass-walled study group study rooms.
Architect’s rendering of the new student study space on O’Neill Level 5. Construction is now complete; the space awaits furnishings.

Following that, library staff relocated and shifted the 5th floor collection so that several ranges of shelving could be removed. The result is a larger study space overlooking the Boston skyline. 

Computer rendering of new seating in sunlight through windows. In the foreground are some round tables with chairs, and some cushioned chairs near low tables. To the left are tall chairs at a bar overlooking the atrium. In the background are group study tables.
Architect’s rendering of O’Neill Library level 5 seating on the east side overlooking Boston. Construction is complete, and the space awaits furnishings.

The final phase included the construction of 7 new group study rooms and refurbishment of the existing study rooms.

Computer rendering of glass-fronted study rooms. 3 rooms are pictured to the left of open study tables.
Architect’s rendering of new group study rooms on O’Neill Library level 5; construction is complete, and the space awaits furnishings.

More walls came down to open up the new study space, visually connect it to the atrium, and physically connect it to the expanded Boston-facing study area. People are now able to walk around all four sides of the atrium. The addition of some study booths complete this newly accessible area.

Computer rendering of a booth seating area next to sunny atrium windows.
Architect’s rendering of the study booths and atrium on O’Neill Library level 5. Construction is complete, and the space await furnishings.

Finally, the bathrooms on the 5th floor were redone. And less visible, but no less critical, was a major HVAC upgrade.

Scott Britton

Associate University Librarian, Public Services, Office of the University Librarian