The Rockefeller Library was dedicated on November 16, 1964. Designed by Warner, Burns, Toan, Lunde, the building, which had been under construction since June of 1962, was planned to house 1,500,000 volumes in the humanities and social sciences, about twice the number present at the time of building, and to provide seating for 1,044 persons in the various reading rooms, studies, and carrels. The building was built by E. Turgeon Construction Company of Providence. In the early planning stages the new library structure was referred to as the “John Hay Library extension.” The “extension” materialized as a separate and much larger building on Prospect Street separated from the John Hay by College Street (but joined by an underground tunnel), and planned to harmonize with the older library. Architect Danforth W. Toan wrote, “In developing the exterior architectural design, we sought to match the modest monumentality of John Hay by developing a series of paired piers on the building perimeter which incorporate air conditioning risers with structural columns. The projection of these piers, along with the variations in the wall plane and fenestration, produce varying horizontal and vertical rhythms intended to reduce the building’s scale and reflect the interior functions. The cantilevering of the main floor, necessitated by the need for greater area, provides a strong horizontal band which hovers above the undulating terrain of College Hill.” An outside reading area at the rear of the library was named the Chafee Garden, in honor of Zechariah Chafee, Jr. ’07.
David Rockefeller spoke at the dedication on November 15, 1964 of the library named for his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 1897, “an alumnus whose services to society were characterized by distinction and integrity, and whose relations to the University those of a devoted alumnus.”