Battle Hall : restoring natural ventilation in the Reading Room
Battle Hall, located at the heart of the University of Texas at Austin’s campus since 1911, has been serving the University for a century. It was designed for cooling with natural ventilation prior to being fully air conditioned in the mid-1960s. The mechanical system currently installed in Battle Hall is over 40 years old. While it provides reasonable environment for the collections, it struggles to achieve stable conditions for various zones in the building. The purpose of this study is to consider isolating the Reading Room as an individual zone and explore the possibility of restoring natural ventilation as it was originally designed. There are various benefits in restoring natural ventilation to the hundred-year old Reading Room, including psychological benefits, indoor air quality, and energy savings. However, various concerns, such as environmental conditions, air pollutants, acoustic, and potential light damages, also exist. This study focuses on investigating the possibility of restoring natural ventilation by examining existing conditions, collection care requirements for library collections and historic architectural elements. Two data-loggers were placed in the Reading Room to record temperature and relative humidity readings for approximately five months. Through analysis of these readings of existing collection care settings and existing architectural settings, potential solutions and alternatives were considered and examined. These included non-action, hybrid natural ventilation, Johnson Controls Personal Environmental System, and HVAC shut-off. This study is the first of its kind for Battle Hall. As a Historic Structures Report of Battle Hall is commissioned by the University, this study provides a better understanding of potential solutions and alternatives to restore natural ventilation to Battle Hall. This may also serve as a platform to stimulate ideas and research on natural ventilation restoration to other buildings in the University.