By the Book
Project Managers Turn the Page to Renovate a Historic Library In Morocco
Some of the world’s oldest manuscripts are stored in an even older building. The al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez, Morocco is one of the oldest continuously operating libraries in the world. Its deteriorating condition was threatening 4,000 delicate tomes; structural problems, including cracked wooden beams, could have potentially exposed the library’s contents to the elements. So in 2012, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture launched a project to rehabilitate the library, with the backing of a grant from Arab Bank in Kuwait.
Founded in 859, al-Qarawiyyin lacked insulation for climate and humidity control. The project team was faced with the challenge of bringing the building up to modern standards while also preserving the rich history of the space.
“There has to be a fine balance between keeping the original spaces [and] addressing the needs of current users, including students, researchers and visitors.”
“I didn’t want the building to become an embalmed cadaver,” lead architect Aziza Chaouni told TED.com. “There has to be a fine balance between keeping the original spaces [and] addressing the needs of current users, including students, researchers and visitors.”
The team found that balance by using native materials and local artisans, while also incorporating new elements like solar panels and digital locks. They also had to get the space ready for a new group of users—the public. Access to the library had long been restricted to scholars and researchers, but since it reopened in May, guests from all over the world are able to visit the newly restored space. —Kelsey O’Connor
PM NETWORK OCTOBER 2016 WWW.PMI.ORG
OCTOBER 2016 PM NETWORK
PMI research shows project teams that draw from an array of perspectives and skillsets deliver powerful outcomes.