Mui Ho Fine Arts Library

View of library stacks

A New Landmark Library for Cornell University

The Mui Ho Fine Arts Library in Cornell University's Rand Hall opened for the fall 2019 semester welcoming patrons to a facility that houses one of the best circulating collections of fine art and design materials in the country. By investing in books in addition to 21st-century resources and technologies, AAP is staking out increasingly rare territory in defense of the physical artifact as a durable and irreplaceable academic and creative resource in the visual arts and design disciplines.

Following an 18-month renovation of historic Rand Hall (1911) that included the removal of the existing building's third floor, the library is now four levels of massed stacks with shelves of books suspended as a centerpiece. The 100,000 book collection is surrounded by new spaces for research, computing, and instruction as well as a voluminous reading and study space. The stacks accommodate approximately 100,000 volumes in a configuration forming an inventive inverted ziggurat of books. The four levels are accessible by elevator, stairs, and grated walkways. Free of walls, the transparency across and between levels provides visitors multiple overlapping views across interior spaces and outward to the natural surroundings.

The ground floor of Rand Hall is a new Material Practice Center including wood, metal, and digital fabrication shops, a makerspace, a research lab, and small-tool repository.

"This building has an amazing history. Rand Hall is an early example of adaptive reuse for many different programs. From industrial purposes to engineering and architecture programs and now as a fine arts library, above a state-of-the-art fabrication facility. It represents the full spectrum of media and material coming together."~Meejin Yoon, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of AAP

"On the first floor an energetic fabrication space filled with machines, and on the second floor a silent and clean space where more than 100,000 volumes of books are hung between earth and the skies. Thus, we have two factories in one building. One is the factory for the material, and one is the factory for thought and concepts — both wrapped by Rand Hall to one interacting volume."Wolfgang Tschapeller (M.Arch. '87), design architect

"The books and their shelving form a sculptural whole, a breathtaking tribute to the potential of the printed word and image to inspire learning, research, creativity and innovation." ~ Gerald R. Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian

The library's users include the architecture, art, and planning community and extend to the entire university — in particular, the staff at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, and students and faculty in landscape architecture, interior design, and the history of art and visual studies. 

Mui Ho '62 (B.Arch. '66), an architect and educator retired from the University of California–Berkeley, committed $6 million to the library in 2013. The New York City–based STV is the architectural firm of record, with a team led by Harris Feinn (B.Arch. '69, M.Arch. '71). 

The building will be LEED-certified (currently under review) and realizes significant energy savings from the project with upgrades that include rigid foam installation, double-glazed windows, and the replacement of all mechanical systems, with a projected target of cutting 70 percent of Rand Hall's prior energy use.

The renovated library opened on August 5, 2019.