Cornell University Olin Library Life Safety Upgrades

Olin Library, located on Cornell University’s Ithaca, NY campus, houses Cornell’s largest and most comprehensive collection of resources in the humanities and social sciences. Erdman Anthony provided fire protection, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing design services for the $10 million renovation to the 8-story, 112,000 sq ft library. Built in 1961, the John M. Olin Library was in need of critical life safety upgrades in order to facilitate proposed programming renovations to the various library support spaces. The initial phase of the multi-phased project was to completely upgrade the fire safety systems including adding fire suppression and detection systems, and fire rated assemblies at the building’s various means of egress.

The fire protection systems that were added included a new water service and fire pump, a new combination standpipe/sprinkler riser system, new automatic sprinkler zones, and an air sampling smoke detection system throughout the collections. Besides providing full coverage throughout the fully occupied building, one of the prime goals of the new fire sprinkler and standpipe systems was to try and prevent the deterioration of water within the systems and prevent corrosion. The Librarians made a point of noting that it is much easier to restore a collection that has been exposed to ‘clean’ water.

The MEP upgrades, along with associated architectural renovations, were performed to improve the fire safety of the facility and bring the building into compliance with current building codes. The design/construction team worked with Library and Cornell University staff to develop a comprehensive phasing plan that would allow the Library to remain occupied during construction. Since the scope of the Architectural renovations and environmental removals was limited to upgrades needed to supported the Fire Safety goals of the project, extensive field work and coordination between design and construction teams was required.

Project Details


Ithaca, NY


Cornell University



Construction Cost

$10 Million

Project Contact

Andrew Taylor, PE, FPE
  • Andrew Taylor, PE, FPE
  • 585-427-8888 x 1056
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