A 15-month restoration project of the Sterling Memorial nave, the expansive atrium that greets visitors upon entry to the building, began today, University Librarian Susan Gibbons announced in an email to the Yale community Monday morning.

The construction process will restore the nave’s full interior, including its stained glass windows, stonework and woodwork and will affect daily visitor traffic to SML, Gibbons wrote. A covered pedestrian walkway will facilitate entry from High Street, while side tunnels will allow access to the major reading rooms on the first floor.

Due to the noise caused by construction, Gibbon said she expects that some students will forgo their time-honored study spots within SML for quieter locales. Although areas such as the Starr and Linonia & Brothers reading rooms will remain open, Gibbons told the News this February that the “noise level of the construction is the real unknown.”

The project is headed by Helpern Architects, a New York firm whose plan for the library includes not only a complete restoration of the nave’s approximately 3,300 Art Deco style stained glass windows, but also a refurbishment of the area’s stone and wood facades, as well as of the “Alma Mater” painting that hangs above the main circulation desk. The area on either side of the front doors, which currently houses rows of empty card catalogs, will be converted into a seating area with couches and tables. Library services will be moved to the nave’s north aisle, facing the Selin courtyard.

The restoration was funded by a $20 million donation from Richard Gilder ’54 and wife Lois Chiles, and is slated for completion in fall 2014.