January 26, 2007
  Native American Tribe’s Gift Helps A.C Martin Partners, Hillier Realize New Library in Fresno

by Russell Boniface
Associate Editor

Summary: California State University, Fresno, has received a $10 million donation from Table Mountain Rancheria, a federally recognized American Indian tribe, for the 350,000-square-foot, $95 million Henry Madden Library, currently undergoing renovation and construction along with construction of a new building. The gift is the largest single cash gift in the university’s history. A.C. Martin Partners Inc., and Hillier Architecture, will lead the design, which will emphasize the region’s history and Native American design and become Fresno State’s largest academic building.

The Henry Madden Library project includes a new, five-story, 283,600-square-foot building and the renovation of the existing 68,695-square-foot south library building. The new building will be composed of glass and steel, combined with wood and granite to reflect the natural materials of Central California’s San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada. The two buildings will be connected. Currently, the library’s collection is expanding at a rate of approximately 20,000 volumes per year, beyond the capacity the facility was built to accommodate. The new library will become the largest library in the California State University’s 23-campus system and the largest academic library between Southern California and the Bay Area.

The Table Mountain Rancheria American Indian tribe, located in the Sierra Nevada foothills north of Fresno, has supported numerous efforts to improve health care and education in Central California. The $10 million gift to Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library is the largest by the tribe to support education. Table Mountain Rancheria, which operates a casino northeast of Fresno, is made up of members of the Mono-Chukchansi Indian tribe. “The Rancheria is making the gift to help improve educational opportunities for all students in Central California,” says the tribe’s chairperson, Leanne Walker Grant.

Recognizing the Native American contribution
Named for Henry Miller Madden, the university's librarian from 1949 to 1979, the library’s open interior and exterior glass design will reflect the contribution of the Native American community in Central California’s San Joaquin Valley. David C. Martin, FAIA, A.C. Martin Partners Inc., is providing overall design leadership and focused on the exterior. Joseph Rizzo, AIA, of Hillier Architecture will lead the team in the design of the interior space, and Robert Murrin, AIA, is the principal-in-charge and project manager. Their proposal to the university states that they will “seek to create an environment that is timeless. Its aesthetic should therefore reflect the rich culture of the campus, city, and region as a whole.”

“The library will tell the history of the development of the central California valley,” says Dr. John D. Welty, Fresno State’s president. “It allows us to utilize native trees and grasses as well as demonstrate the importance of basket making to the Native American tribes that originally inhabited the region. It will provide a significant educational benefit to those who visit the library.”

The signature of the new Madden Library will be a four-story elliptical tower with a lattice of wood and metal wrapping the entrance and a broad, glass stairwell. “The entryway has a spherical design that demonstrates the basket weaving technique,” explains Welty. The library’s interior also will be a visual reflection of Native American designs. Rich earth-tone colors will evoke the spirit of the region’s natural beauty and fabrics for the furnishings will evoke basket weaving patterns.

Peace Garden honors social heroes
A Peace Garden, just west of the new library, houses monuments of Martin Luther King Jr., César E. Chávez, Mahatma Gandhi, and peace activist and social reformer Jane Addams. The Peace Garden and the library will feature lush landscapes of native plants, trees, and grasses, many of which are used to weave baskets by the local Native American tribes. Cut-granite benches inscribed with the plant names in native languages will surround the garden. The library’s long, glass north-facing wall abuts the Peace Garden. “The glass to the north allows us to highlight the Peace Garden, which recognizes four individuals who have had major contributions, and is designed to be quiet and contemplative. It will tie right into the building using the native American plantings,” says Welty.

The link between the interior and exterior of the building will be realized in digital projections onto the elevator walls that will be visible from the Peace Garden and within the new library. The level below grade will house the library’s general collections. The first three levels above grade will be library space and the top level will house the university administration. A grand, formal, two-story reading room will highlight the interior space. To take advantage of the north glass wall, all the public areas and reading rooms will be grouped at the north of the building, with offices and utilities grouped at the south. The new building will include 3,600 reader stations and a wide variety of study configurations. There will be room for nearly double the one million volumes the library currently houses.

A million visitors are expected at the new Madden Library annually. Completion is scheduled for fall 2008.

news headlines