Has the design been finalized?

The renderings of the reimagined McLennan-Redpath Complex are an aspirational vision of how the site could be evolved to meet the student needs highlighted in the Feasibility Study. When the project moves ahead, the project architects will work with the University and the diverse shareholders to finalize the design plans for the new site and move it from the sketch pad onto the McGill campus.

Will users be able to directly access the Redpath Library Building without going through the McLennan Library Building?

Yes. The Redpath Library Building will serve as a direct link between the student services corridor along McTavish St. and the greater McGill campus. There will be two entrances to Redpath: one on the west side, from the street level on McTavish St.; and one on the east, onto the terrace above the lower field.

Why don’t you just build more stories on top of the McLennan Library Building?

The McGill campus falls within a provincially-designated historic zone which restricts the type of development that can occur on-campus.  McLennan currently maximizes its height allowance within this zone. While the City could be petitioned to change the zoning, such decisions are often extensive and time consuming and subject to the desires of off-campus decision makers. The reimagined Library adheres to all existing zoning regulations and would therefore not be reliant on bylaw changes from the city. 

Will the rest of the University be able to use the signature event space in the reimagined Library?

Yes! We know that similar spaces are hard to come by on campus, and the University often has to look externally to host events. The signature space will serve as a gathering point for the entire campus, allowing the entire University to enjoy its benefits.

How will the reimagined Library impact energy usage?

Other Library projects have shown that Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is well within reach without significant budgetary increases. By incorporating new technology, the rebuilt facility would represent a significantly reduced carbon footprint relative to the current energy-inefficient Redpath Library Building, which suffers from a long list of Deferred Maintenance issues.

McGill has suffered major water leaks in the past. Isn't it risky to place valuable works in an underground storage facility?

The Library's great treasures will be protected by the location of the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and its design. The site itself has very little risk of flooding as it is protected from the only nearby body of water (the reservoir) by the rest of the campus buildings. As we saw in the flood of 2013, water was channeled down McTavish and over near Birks/Wilson Hall while the centre of campus remained untouched. Even in the event of significant flooding, water shouldn't reach the ASRS site.

Natural light is a prominent feature in the rebuilt Redpath Library Building. How will you compensate during dreary winter months with grey skies?

While grey skies are an unfortunate reality in Montreal’s infamous winters, best practices at other libraries have shown that artificial LED lighting can be designed and implemented in such a way to promote intimacy in the library environment. The specific details for the reimagined McLennan-Redpath Complex would be worked out as the process moves into the more detailed design stage.

With a glass-centric design, will the rebuilt Redpath Library Building become a hazard for birds?

Currently, there are technologies available that create a pattern on the glass that the birds can recognize to avoid colliding with the building.

How is the project being funded?

We will be looking to all avenues for contributions for the project, including federal and provincial funding, partnerships, loans and philanthropic donations. The project will also require the engagement of the entire McGill community, including students, faculty and alumni.

When are you expecting to begin construction?

There is no set frame to begin construction, which will progress as funding becomes available. The goal of the Feasibility Study was to create a prudent but ambitious aspirational vision. We now have clear data about the limitations of the current Library and a roadmap that establishes where we need to go to provide the services to match the evolving needs of McGill’s exceptional students.

What is the next step in the development process?

The Library is currently working on a business plan for the proposed facility to create a sound financial foundation on which to build.

The Feasibility Study proposes three specific phases to renovate the Library. How binding is order to the planning structure?

Though the construction could be completed in one fell swoop, the more realistic scenario is that it will be implemented in phases as funding becomes available. The Feasibility Study’s proposed ordering is 1. Building the Automated Storage and Retrieval System, 2. Rebuilding Redpath Library Building, and 3. Renovating McLennan Library Building. However, the order of those phases could be shifted based on preferences; for example, if the University sees the rebuilt Redpath Library Building as a signature on-campus structure, it could be implemented as the first phase.

Will the Library be closed during construction?

No. All three phases were designed to minimize the impact on users by ensuring the Library could stay open throughout the construction process.

Will Redpath Hall be used by the Library?

No. Redpath Hall is a gem of the campus and will continue to play an integral role as a stunning performance space in the reimagined Library. In the Feasibility Study, Redpath Hall would be returned to its former glory with a light restoration of the interior and the uncovering of the stunning façade currently obscured by the Redpath Library Building.

How will other McGill Library branches be affected?

The Feasibility Study’s mandate specifically focused on reimagining the McLennan-Redpath Complex, and does not account for any construction efforts on other branches beyond a light refresh of Schulich. However, other branches would benefit greatly from the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS), as they would be able to transfer portions of their lesser-used physical collections into the ASRS, freeing up space within the branches to be rededicated to user needs.

How will services be situated within the new Library?

Like the renderings, the potential first-floor layout included in the Feasibility Study is merely aspirational, a suggestion of how services could be physical staggered in the building. As the project moves forward, the Library will look to its users for feedback on the services they rely on and how they can be arranged to meet those needs.

What will happen to the Service Point (currently street level of the McLennan Library Building)?

The Service Point will remain where it is currently located. It is a vital service to our students and its’ current location is perfect.

The Feasibility Study suggests keeping approximately keeping approximately 500,000 books in the Library for serendipitous discovery. How are you going to decide which books to keep?

Different disciplines use their resources in different ways; there is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding which books will physically remain in the Library. The process will require dialogue with the different users (students, faculty and researchers) from across the campus combined with empirical data on how often books are used.

Why not store the books in an off-campus storage facility, possibly at the Macdonald Campus?

As part of the Feasibility Study, a 25-year cost estimate was created to compare the life cycle costs of such an off-campus facility versus the ASRS below the lower field (see Appendix). While the ASRS has higher initial capital costs, the automated facility’s long-term operational costs are significantly lower and provide far superior service to students and faculty.

Why is it important to keep the less-circulated books?

A recent study of our collection revealed that every one in five of our books is considered rare. We have a commitment to the global collective knowledge to protect and preserve these works.

Will all of the Library’s books fit in the proposed ASRS?

Yes. The storage facility will have room for 2.7 million volumes with room for growth. Of course there will be many print collections left in all libraries. The ASRS will solve our collection space problem for many years.

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