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The Construction

Because the library would be the key building for the entire university, choosing the proper location was critical. After conducting an exhaustive study that produced 19 possible sites, Pereira and his staff ultimately recommended a picturesque, wooded area in the center of campus that would allow the Library to remain a visible and symbolic landmark even with later campus developments.

Pereira was concerned that the building’s unusual shape would prevent contractors from submitting bids, so he invited them to a series of preconstruction conferences where he explained the method of construction he had in mind when designing the library (for example, the building was designed to have the center of the core left open during the construction for a single crane to be able to reach any part of the building). The additional information allowed the contractors to be better informed about the project, and as a result, the winning bid was approved in May 1968. Construction began shortly after in July and concluded in 1970.

The Updates

Pereira’s original design allowed for the possibility for expansion in the future, and in 1990, the library underwent renovations to add underground space on the east, west, and south sides of the building. Designed by Latvian-American architect Gunnar Birkerts, the addition was deliberately intended to be subordinate to the strong, geometrical form of the existing structure. Known for using angular forms, folding planes and light-suffused interiors, Birkerts’ addition provided extra space while preserving the building’s original silhouette and ensuring ample natural light to the lower floors.

In recognition of Audrey and Theodor Geisel’s extraordinary contributions to the Library and their devotion to improving literacy, the building was renamed Geisel Library in 1995. The Library has since undergone further renovations to meet the ever changing needs of students, faculty, staff, and other users. These updates have included the addition of Audrey’s Café on the 2nd (main) floor in 2015 and the renovation of the 8th Floor in 2018.


This guide highlights many of the current spaces, services, and collections found within and around the iconic campus structure.

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