As architects, we need to think like behavioral biologists when designing college libraries. Student habits have evolved significantly over the past two decades in response to modern technology and changes in education theory. They need fewer books, more charging stations and increased areas for collaboration.
Academic design should include a preliminary observation period so we design spaces that make more sense and are more functionally efficient. Here are examples of recent academic designs that have done just that.
Grand Valley State University. The designers – SHW Group in Berkley, working with GVSU librarians – spent a great deal of time studying student habits before commencing with the actual design. Some of the features in the new and improved GVSU library:
- Tablets that can be checked out
- Private, sound-proof study rooms offering optional piped in white-noise
- Soundproof collaborative workstations where students can work in groups/socialize without disturbing other library-goers
- Large cafe tables so students can use the tabletop, rather than an available seat, to store backpacks and laptops
Claire T. Carney Library at UMass Dartmouth. This is a project that LS&A worked on. Similar to the GVSU project, it was obvious to us that more square footage needed to be allocated for seating and computer work, with less emphasis on book space. A recent update at Brown University also integrated social seating as a part of the library’s design.
Is your institution’s academic design ready for an update? Schedule a consultation with Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Interiors.