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UC Berkeley Press Release

Music Library exterior The new three-story Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library boasts 28,775 gross square feet, more than twice the space of the old one. (Christine Shaff photos)

New Music Library open

– The University of California, Berkeley's new state-of-the-art Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library is open for business.

More space, the latest technology, climate controls, heightened security and room for projected growth are among key features of the nearly $14 million library, a new home for what has been long rated the No. 1 academic music library in the United States. The library, located on the southeastern side of campus, houses 190,000 volumes of printed music, books and periodicals, as well as more than 50,000 sound and video recordings, and extensive collections of manuscripts and other rare materials.

It contains the only known score of Alessandro Scarlatti's 1683 opera, "L'Aldimiro," as well as an 11th century Gregorian chant manuscript, the papers of jazz great Earl "Fatha" Hines, and an original manuscript of Stravinsky's ballet, "Orpheus," written in his own hand.

The three-story library boasts 28,775 gross square feet, more than twice that of the old one on the second floor of Morrison Hall, and rare materials are now well protected with enhanced security and climate control.

The structure, designed by the award winning firm of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects of Atlanta, Ga., features strategically placed amber-colored glass, green slate shingles covering the building's exterior, and natural light pouring through windows that allow spectacular views of the campus.

 Music library interior
The library's Craftsman-style, dark cherry furniture was custom designed by the Library Space Planning Office.

An unusual feature of the new library is a first-floor layout that corresponds to the city of Berkeley's official street grid, and the top two floors were rotated slightly to align with the historic grid of the campus. This "geometric phenomenon," Elam said, lends a "certain generosity" at the perimeter of the top two floors, providing space for seating and study carrels.

Dark cherry wood study tables, carrels and chairs were custom designed by the Library Space Planning Office, said UC Berkeley Library Architect Fred Yasaki. "The concept was to 'warm' the industrial loft-like building with Craftsman style wood furniture," he said, adding that the custom furniture was designed to withstand heavy student use. "We wanted the furniture to not only look good, but to be very durable."

The furniture matches the building's interior cabinetry and finishes. Pieces were designed to meet patron needs with task lighting, electrical outlets and wireless data access, said Yasaki.

A room on the first floor includes 46 computer stations, many linked to a digital music network. It includes listening and viewing equipment at each station, and one electronic piano for reviewing keyboard music. "That's something we haven't had before, and it's going to be very useful," said UC Berkeley Music Librarian John Roberts.

A seminar room for graduate teaching is equipped with a piano, sound and video equipment, a projector and a screen. Graduate students also can take advantage of a special study room.

Nearly 150 current periodicals are now publicly displayed, compared to less than half that number in the cramped quarters of the previous library that was occupied since 1958.

"It's a very efficient little building," Elam said of the new library.

It also forms an "arts quadrangle" along with Wurster, Kroeber, Hertz and Morrison halls, and has a prominent location at the east end of North Field.

"This unique building is a poem in slate and glass to the beauty and boldness of all the arts, at UC Berkeley, and in the world at large," said Arts and Humanities Dean Ralph Hexter. "We need that daring beauty today more than ever."

University Librarian Tom Leonard noted that, in classical times, music and athletics were often related, and said it was a "bonus" that the music library windows look out over the busy sports field just to the west, the busy quad to the east and up the nearby hills.

"By judiciously placing windows and views, the library feels more open and more expansive than what you might expect from such a small building," said architect Elam. Adding to the sense of space is the library's open structure of exposed pipes and struts, she said.

Leonard commended the project for its architectural detail, landscaping and the way the building "catches the sun nicely, giving the humanities a shining lamp of its own."

Elam noted that designing the new library was "complex in terms of its neighbors." Those include the "almost Brutalist/modern" style of Wurster, Kroeber and Barrows halls, the California style of Morrison and Hertz halls, and fanciful style of the Hearst Gymnasium, she said.

"You have to make something that speaks to the place, but doesn't try to copy or reiterate anything that is already in the area," Elam said. "The music library's cube-like form lends a certain stability, allowing it to hold its own, and mediates among the surrounding buildings."

The scalloped slate tiles on the library's outside were chosen by the architects to complement the surrounding buildings in terms of color, texture and scale. They also serve another purpose: earthquake safety. The tiles are attached with copper nails and overlap, but are not bound together by any physical device. That, Elam said, results in a building skin that can absorb more movement than many other designs. The building is also equipped with a system of unbounded braces for the same reason.

Other projects by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects include the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture opening this fall at Ohio State University in Columbus, and residential housing for students at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Completion of the music library project, managed by UC Berkeley Capital Projects with general contractor DPR Construction, Inc., clears the way for the second phase of an expansion program for the College of Letters & Science's Music Department. Eventually, the former library space in Morrison Hall will be renovated for faculty offices and additional teaching and rehearsal space.

The new library is named for Jean Gray Hargrove of Berkeley, a Music Department graduate from UC Berkeley's Class of 1935 and a Bay Area concert pianist whose $4 million donation made its construction possible. Roberts said Hargrove visited on the library's opening day and called it "magnificent." A portrait of Hargrove will hang in the reference room.

A formal opening ceremony is planned for Sept. 26, coinciding with a scholarly symposium focused on manuscripts in the music library's collections. Activities will include a brief recital of music for violin, cello and harpsichord from the music library's Tartini Collection of 18th century violin music.

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