Manuscripts & Archives Restoration
New Haven, CT
Yale University’s Manuscripts and Archives (MSSA), located within Sterling Memorial Library, is a major center for historical inquiry and a teaching laboratory used by faculty, staff, and students for researching valuable material that is not allowed to leave the space. It serves as the documentary memory of Yale with over 1,700 collections of personal and family historic papers and organizational records, Yale publications, and over 10,000 hours of video testimonies from Holocaust survivors, liberators, and witnesses.
MSSA was renovated and restored with the goal of maintaining the building’s original 1920’s architectural integrity while bringing its systems up to date. The primary reading room and periodical storage vaults had to be designed to specific temperature and humidity requirements to enhance the preservation of the collection material, as well as to provide a proper secure environment for the collections to be reviewed by students. The systems serving these spaces were designed with those requirements in mind and were provided with steam to steam humidifiers, using campus steam distribution, and dehumidification capability via VAV reheat coils.
The scope of work also required incorporating an unobtrusive but effective air conditioning system, integrating state-of-the-art Information Technology, and restoring the interior stonework and stained glass. Spaces renovated include a reading room, periodical storage vaults, consultation room, lecture hall, reference center, and the Gutenberg Room, a classroom and one-time home of one of only 21 surviving complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible known to exist in the world. The book is now on display at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Work involved concealing all piping and infrastructure within the existing millwork (bookcases) and placing all new equipment in the basement. The equipment also needed to be inaudible to create a quiet environment and cause the least amount of disruption to users.