HBS Completes Restoration, Expansion of Renowned Baker Library

BOSTON-Harvard Business School today formally re-opened Baker Library, the grand historic building capped with a bell tower that has been the symbol of the School for over seventy-five years, marking the conclusion of an extensive two-year, $53.4 million renovation and expansion project.

“Baker Library, the finest facility of its kind, is both the physical and intellectual center of Harvard Business School,” said Dean Jay O. Light. “In restoring and updating the building, we have strengthened its role as a forum for the exchange of ideas while providing an ideal setting for creating the library of the future.”

The iconic building, home to one of the world’s largest and most renowned business libraries, has been expanded from 130,000 to 168,000 square feet to accommodate a range of facilities, activities, and services that will support the preservation and exchange of knowledge and information among the members of the HBS community and that will better serve as a resource for scholars worldwide.

“Although Baker has retained its traditional look throughout, it has also been updated to embrace the 21st century,” said Mary Lee Kennedy, Baker’s Executive Director. “In today’s world, the universe of information that must be at our fingertips goes far beyond the four walls of a traditional library.”

Among the innovative features of the revitalized building is The Exchange, a gathering place on the first floor for students, faculty, and staff to see and discuss the latest business and financial news from around the globe. The resources available in the room include an array of 42-inch wall-mounted screens showing content from such sources as Bloomberg, CNN News, Thompson StreetEvents, and CNBC, as well as copies of nineteen daily newspapers from around the world. Computers in the area provide access to all of the databases available to the community via the Baker Library website (www.library.hbs.edu) in addition to several available only in The Exchange, including StreetEvents, S&P Ratings Direct, and Bloomberg Professional.

Renovations to Baker Library-which housed the world’s first collection of business materials as well as the School’s original classrooms when it first opened in 1927-have restored the building’s distinctive north facade, which faces the Charles River. Today, the Library’s resources span all aspects of management, embracing more than 600,000 printed volumes and thousands of periodicals as well as extensive collections of working papers, annual reports, microform items, archives and manuscripts, and photographs. The Library also provides access to a broad array of databases of business information.

The Library’s extensive general collection of books will be shelved for the first time in environmentally controlled stacks, located on two new underground floors. The new de Gaspÿ Beaubien Reading Room is an area where one of the world’s premier collections of rare business books and documents dating from the 15th century is made available for research. A state-of-the-art conservation lab has been constructed to preserve these materials.

The main lobby on the north side of the building, now restored to pristine condition, includes exhibit space to engage both the community and visitors in the lessons and legacies of business history, the history of the School, and current faculty research. A newly constructed south entrance faces Boston’s Allston-Brighton neighborhood, where Harvard University is working with community leaders on its plans for future expansion.

Access to all main library services, including the general collections, is available at the newly restored Stamps Reading Room, a majestic space that has been updated to include wireless internet access.

In addition to offices and meeting areas for library and academic support staff, the expanded building also has 67 faculty offices and a new Faculty Commons that includes three research seminar rooms and a general meeting area for faculty and doctoral students. Other services housed in the building include the Faculty Research Computing Center and the Research Staff Services group.

Funding for the restoration and expansion of Baker Library was provided primarily through donations from HBS alumni.

A team of more than one hundred HBS faculty, staff, and MBA and doctoral students began developing the concept for the renovation/expansion with the firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott in the spring of 2001. For the design, HBS tapped Robert A.M. Stern Architects, which teamed up with Finegold Alexander & Associates for the restoration. Skanska USA Building Inc. was the construction manager of the project.