Williams College – Stetson Hall Sawyer Library

Williams College is a private college founded in 1793, located in the rural Berkshires in northwestern Massachusetts. It is highly selective and consistently ranked the #1 liberal arts college in the U.S. The cornerstone of the original Sawyer Library was laid in 1920 and was home to the renowned Chapin Rare Books Library. The renovated Stetson Hall | Sawyer Library continues to be the repository for the collection highlighted by significant historical documents including the Founding Documents of the United States – original printings of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. These documents together with George Washington’s copy of The Federalist (1788) and the September 1776 British reply to the Declaration are on permanent display in the Chapin Library. 

The 40,000-square foot existing building was completely renovated and complemented with a 135,000-square foot library addition including general book stacks, special collections, staff offices, a news resource center, and café. Altieri had previously performed a master plan with BCJ that included this library expansion, demolition of the existing Sawyer Library, and construction of two academic buildings (Hollander and Shapiro Halls).

Critical to the project was working with an archival environment in which the special collections areas are housed. Two-pass desiccant wheels were utilized in the air handling units providing an energy-efficient means to maintain a low relative humidity environment. The general office, conference, and learning areas were constructed with raised floors and underfloor air supply. The underfloor plenum provides for flexibility to modify floor plans and provides space for power and data wireways. The mechanical systems use campus steam and chilled water on a seasonal basis.  High efficiency condensing boilers and modular chillers satisfy heating and cooling demands in opposite seasons. Clean humidification steam is produced by unfired steam generators. A unit substation in the building reduces campus high voltage power for the building electrical loads. An emergency generator provides power for emergency lighting along with the atrium smoke exhaust system. The fire alarm system utilizes air sampling-type smoke detection and a fire fighter smoke control station. Altieri also provided architectural lighting design services. The lighting systems currently outperform ASHRAE 90.1-2007 design densities by 28%.

Images: Susan Fisher Plotner/Altieri

Read More


Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts

Completion Date: 2014

Architects: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Awards: LEED Gold 2019; AIA/ALA Library Building Award 2016; SCUP AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture Merit Award 2015

Altieri Services: MEPF, IT, Architectural Lighting