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UC Santa Cruz McHenry Library

UC Santa Cruz McHenry Library

Santa Cruz, CA

The original McHenry Library was designed in 1968 by John Carl Warnecke as an object at the campus center and is a lasting campus icon. To accommodate growth, bring the library into the 21st Century, and provide seismic retrofits, the university commissioned Bora to renovate the Modernist library and add over 120,000 square feet of space.

Our approach to the new wing respects the integrity of the existing building while continuing the balance between building and context. We extended the lines of the original building into the addition, while reinterpreting their texture, proportion and rhythm. The regular pattern of glass and concrete is echoed in the addition, but now reflects internal program elements.

A new interior ‘street’ organizes program elements, improving wayfinding and functionality. Our design also created a commons at the intersection of the addition and the renovation on the main level to accommodate computer stations and information desks in a flexible hub of activity. Wireless and fiber-optic communication is provided, increasing the usability of all library spaces. With new classrooms and study areas, a Global Village Café, and expanded special collections including The Grateful Dead Archive, the McHenry Library has become the vital academic center of the University’s student life.


160,000sf renovation; 120,000sf addition


Rutherford & Chekene
Flack & Kurtz
Joni Janecki
Bowman & Williams