University of California-Santa Barbara

Library Renovation & Addition

University of California-Santa Barbara

Davidson Library, the University’s main library, was originally constructed in 1954, with additions and renewals occurring in 1960, 1967 and again in 1978. The result was a building that not only lacked architectural integrity, but by the 21st century, was highly outmoded and significantly in need of renovation and renewal. Working with the University, our goal with the new addition was to transform what was originally a “book depository” into a contemporary center for active research, collaboration and knowledge as well as to greatly enhance the library’s connectivity to the campus. The addition functions as a 24/7 information commons, programmed for open study and interactive uses and features a ground floor café, a new home for Special Collections and an upper level event space for lectures and small campus events. The three-story addition is a stand-alone structure with a connecting bridge to the library’s now renovated North Wing. We were able to use the seismic improvements required as part of the wing’s renovation to also create a new west façade for this portion of the library, integrating it architecturally with the new construction. An internal “paseo” connects the library’s original front door facing University Mall, to buildings on the emerging East Campus, providing a dual entry. Finally, what was once a sloping green lawn with little activity, is today a vibrant new public space in the heart of campus, made possible by the library’s new addition.

Project Data

379,000 sf existing; 59,900 gsf addition

Program & Highlights

New entrances and lobbies
Courtyard reading room
24-hour access area
2,700 user seats
Instruction and study rooms
Capacity of 2.4 million volumes
Special collections
Exhibit areas
Café with outdoor seating


2016 Library Design Showcase,” American Libraries, September/October, 2016

Ted Mills, “Library renewed UCSB officially unveils expanded facility,” Santa Barbara News Press, Jan. 15, 2016

Tyler Hayden, “UCSB Unveils Its Library of the Future,” Santa Barbara Independent, January 14, 2016

Kathryn Barnes, “The role of the library in the digital age,” KCRW, Which Way, LA? January 13, 2016

“New library opens at UCSB,” KEYT TV, Santa Barbara, January 13, 2016

Davidson Library before addition and renovation
Library café in the addition

General Contractor: C. W. Driver
Civil Engineer: Penfield & Smith
Structural Engineer: John A Martin Associates, Inc
Landscape Architect: Suding Design Landscape Architects, Inc
MEP: IBE/Stantec Consulting Engineers
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Inc.
Acoustics: Rothermel & Associates, LLC
IT/AV: Vantage Technology Consulting Group
Photographer: Steve Lerum