November 21, 2017

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Three More Standouts | New Landmark Libraries 2016 Honorable Mentions

The New Landmark Library Honorable Mentions are three standout academic libraries destined to become classics.


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Mary Helen Cochran Library
Sweet Briar College | VA | 2014
ARCHITECT VMDO Architects

The Mary Helen Cochran Library has served as the main library of Sweet Briar College since 1929. The original building is listed on the National Historic Registry. VMDO Architects took advantage of the sloping site, wrapping the historic core with new functionality while preserving or restoring views to the original 1929 structure. This thoughtful approach “liberated” the original facility from a 1960s addition that, in some places, damaged the original library, opened up a long-closed vaulted gallery as a new 24-hour study area, and added a skylight to the four-story north wall, infusing light throughout. With its modest budget, the renovation honors the historic and looks toward the future by working thoughtfully and judiciously with the principles of reuse, recycle, and rehabilitate.

The design team addressed the challenge of housing the library’s growing collection on-site while increasing study and learning spaces through a reconfiguration of the stacks and the use of compact shelving. High-use collections are on browsable stacks, while special collections are housed in a temperature-controlled space on the lower level in their own customized high-density storage units. The building now encompasses the Academic Resource Center, which provides tutoring support and functions as an event space. Photos by Alan Karchmer


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Jerry Falwell Library
Liberty University | Lynchburg, VA | 2014
ARCHITECT VMDO Architects

Liberty University Library & Academic Commons is a cornerstone in the university’s planning effort, cementing the library’s role as the heart of the campus. Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are visible via 50,0000 square feet of interior and exterior glass. At night, the library provides views into the four-story book tower and two-story reading room. The tower holds 67,000 of the library’s newest and highest use items; the rest are stored in an automated storage and retrieval system, designed to house collections intended to grow from 250,000 volumes today to 500,000 in ten years.

The new building emphasizes a user-centered approach. More than 60 percent of the space is dedicated to individual and collaborative use. A Customer Service Center within the central atrium builds off of a concierge model. Study, collaboration, and active learning classrooms are embedded throughout and reservable remotely. Great care was taken to design the building to human scale. To ensure that daylight penetrates the whole structure, designers split the building into two narrow rectangles. A vegetated roof over the atrium reduces storm water runoff and creates a habitat for migratory birds and insects. Interior materials were chosen to reflect the constancy of certain services and the flexibility of others. Bluestone floors, walnut flooring and furniture, and cherry counters and benches add warmth to the space.
Left and top right photos by Alan Karchmer; bottom right photo by Kevin Henegan


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Learning Commons
Marywood University | Scranton, PA | 2015
ARCHITECT Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects, Hemmler + Camayd Architects

In preparation for the new Learning Commons, Marywood’s late library director Cathy Schappert (1954–2012) partnered with Sister Patricia Ann and Michael Mirabito, professor of communication arts, to study learning spaces and usage in academic libraries nationwide. What results is a vibrant library that acknowledges the faithful orientation of the library and its academic strengths, especially in the arts. A joint venture between Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Hemmler + Camayd, the effort called upon designers and staff to put people first by placing 95 percent of the physical collection in an automated storage and retrieval system behind glass walls in the interior building, visible to users.

The Information Commons boasts a new service model, the Knowledge Bar, combining circulation, reference, and technology and providing both self-service options and staff assistance. Vegetated roofs manage storm water, abundant daylight and efficient HVAC systems address environmental impact (the Learning Commons is currently seeking LEED certification), and a new placement serves as a gateway across the campus between the arts and academic quarters. The Centennial Wall, created through a student competition, spans 55 feet and is a visual touchstone featuring curated images that commemorate the legacy and the future impact of the school. Top photo by Matt Wargo Photography; bottom photos by Kevin Henegan

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What is Design Thinking?
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