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Axinn Center at Starr Library

The Donald E. Axinn ’51, Litt. D. ’89 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library is a beautiful example of how a historic building can be updated and reintegrated into a modern campus in a sustainable way. Because of its exemplary melding of history, modernity and foresight, the building was honored with the Boston Society of Architects' Sustainable Design Award in 2009.

Reuse and Recycling

Starr AxinnRather than demolishing the entire building and starting from scratch, the College chose to refurbish as much of the original Starr Library as possible and add on new wings. In the refurbished areas, such as the beloved reading room, the original wood was restored rather than bringing in new wood. For the sections that were deconstructed, over 80% of the construction and demolition waste was diverted from the landfill. Much of the beautiful stone from the exterior of deconstructed sections was reused to replace worn out stones or to build the facade of the new sections of the building. Stone that was not in condition to be reused as facade was ground and used as backfill in the new construction. Construction debris that could not be reused on site was sorted for recycling.


The Axinn Center was designed to maximize energy efficiency. Features such as a heat recovery system in office wings, premium efficiency motors for all mechanical equipment, occupancy sensors for office lighting, heavy insulation, and carbon dioxide sensors in classrooms that allow the ventilation systems to ramp up only when rooms are in use all add up to a very efficient building.

Site and Landscape

Utilization of an existing building site meant that land did not have to be converted from another use into a building site. The landscaping around the building was also designed with sustainability in mind. An erosion and sedimentation control plan was used and trees were protected throughout construction. The site also has storm water retention and filtering features and the landscaping features native plants. The service road that ran alongside the building was also replaced with a semi-permeable concrete path, which lowers storm water runoff and also reflects the desire for a more pedestrian-friendly campus outlined in the 2008 Master Plan.

Axinn Center recognized for sustainable design