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A New Look and Feel Spruces Up Tulsa’s Central Library


The Tulsa Central Library in Tulsa, Oklahoma reopened its doors recently to hundreds of patrons eager to see the results of its $55 million renovations after three years of construction. The 50-year-old building previously had infrastructural, electrical, plumbing and heating, and air conditioning issues but now features energy-efficient systems, such as solar panels, chilled-beam cooling, and rainwater collection for irrigating landscape. The design and engineered systems are just a part of the story, as accessibility in the vibrant downtown area is an overriding feature.


Since 1963 much of the Central Library in Downtown Tulsa had remained unchanged. Although impeccably maintained, the evolving duties of the library required that the city’s main hub receive a major renovation to keep pace. The city hired MSR Architects and MODUS Engineering to design a complete gut retrofit of the iconic systems of the Central Library. Aside from interior modifications, MSR had to also figure out how to make the exterior envelope look and feel reinvigorated.

These days many renovations require the incorporation of a modern feel without losing a building’s heritage and charm. There is an emphasis on increasing efficiency yet staying comfortable, familiar, and welcoming to the public. The team’s designers had a big task on this project, tackling more than 260,000 square feet of space for renovation. Since Tulsa is a very clean and modern city it made sense to add a little bit of flair to the library exterior. The city also boasts more than 230 days of sunlight, so gaining as much natural light through the facade was a huge positive as well. The most notable design addition was a series of transparent, protruding exterior glass box reading rooms to allow more natural light to penetrate deeper into the building. MSR worked closely with glass design experts at W&W Glass to help make this concept a reality. For the installation, W&W engineered and supplied the Pilkington Planar™ structural glass system to Oklahoma-based glazing contractor Apax Glass Inc. The team’s solution called for large vertical glass “jewel box” cubes constructed with transparent glass fins and sidewalls to support glass roofs. The face glass was made of clear insulating glass units with “K” low-e on the #3 surface. Clear SentryGlas® interlayer laminated glass fins support and accent the roof glass connected with Pilkington Planar™ 905 and 902 series fittings. The roof glass itself is comprised of clear SentryGlas® interlayer insulating laminated glass units with “K” Low-e on the #3 surface as well for solar control.



To help maximize the overall building efficiency, the mechanical engineer MODUS focused on lighting controls. All perimeter spaces utilize daylight harvesting to ensure light fixtures are only on when needed. Each space contains its own occupancy sensor to avoid using the lights when the space is vacant.


Other renovations also included expanded meeting spaces, a revamped children’s play area, a 3-D printing station, and a recording studio. This city mainstay is not just library books anymore, but instead a destination for hands-on activities where students get to experiment with new technology and engage in new programs. What is particularly impressive is the library’s recording studio, which is predicted to be a unique resource for students who aspire to be musicians and rap artists. Some colleges, like Oral Roberts University in South Tulsa, offer similar services, but the facilities are limited to current students and are only available for class-related projects unlike the public access Tulsa’s library now provides. This revitalized library will certainly keep Tulsa residents on the leading edge for years to come.


W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.


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