Harold C. Smith Learning Commons
Transforming the existing library, a 1971 Brutalist-style concrete and brick building totaling 57,000 SF, into a modern Learning Commons meant virtually turning the building inside out. Creating a vibrant place for students required overcoming the problems of a rigid structure with a deep building footprint, little daylight and numerous building systems challenges. Dark glass and brick infill panels were replaced with externally shaded windows. The building has been transformed into a naturally lit student-centered academic hub during the day and a luminous campus beacon at night.
The new first floor (previously the basement) of the Learning Commons now houses a 24-hour Reading Room with Information and Technology Services desks. Floor openings and a monumental stair give access to the second floor “Hub”, while an internally illuminated “Lightwall” rises through both floors. The second floor is home to the Hub lounge, open study space, a collaborative presentation space known as “The Forum”, as well as research consultation and digital media workstations. On floors 3 and 4, cellular spaces are moved to the middle of the plan so that students can occupy the day lighted perimeter. In addition to open study space, the third floor houses group study rooms (seating 4-6), the academic success center and flexible instructional spaces. The fourth floor is dedicated to quiet study, it is home to the Karpovich Reading Room, the book stacks, library services staff, a flex classroom, the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship, and a technology rich conference room.Furniture selection was a central part of the design process for the Learning Commons. Great care was taken in developing the furniture package, including an on-campus “test fit” of all the significant furniture pieces with feedback from students, faculty, and staff.
If you are interested in learning more about library and learning commons trends, please contact Ned Collier, Education Studio Principal.
Self-Shading South Façade
Storm-Water Rain Garden
Reuse of a 1971 Brutalist-Style Library
- Citation of Excellence, Learning by Design