James B. Duke Library Expansion and Renovation
Schematic Design, October 1999
ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS
As Furman University has looked forward to the future it has recognized the inherent value of the James B. Duke Library as a primary catalyst in achieving the institution's academic mission. In its Furman 2001 strategic planning document, it is clearly stated that the library "must become a major focus for and contributor to the University's emphasis on engaged learning...where librarians and students are partners in learning."
Clearly, the university library has taken on very new and different roles as it strives to establish itself as the intellectual heart of the academy. No longer simply a warehouse for the containment of books and printed materials, the library has become an intellectual commons where many forms of information are accessed utilized and manipulated. Users become the definers of the library and the staff become the specialists who guide and advise in new and innovative ways.
Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott Architects (SBRA) were hired by Furman University in June of 1999 to begin the design of an expanded and renovated Duke Library. Based upon the programmatic development process completed by Jay K. Lucker in May of 1999, SBRA evaluated the program relative to its own experience and criteria, and commenced with a Schematic Design process which is now completed and documented in this site. In a series of meetings through the summer with university administrative officials, library administration, and library faculty and staff, alternative concepts for the expansion and renovation were evaluated and discussed. The process was collaborative and ownership shared appropriately by its overseers and authors.
In statistical terms, the existing facility of approximately 84,000 gross square feet (GSF) will be modified and expanded by approximately 48,000 GSF to a total facility size of 132,000 GSE. This will represent a net increase in overall size of the Duke Library of about 57%. This facility will embody a functional program with assignable square footage (ASF) of approximately 90,500 with an ASF/GSF efficiency of approximately 70%. Network and power connectivity will be pervasive throughout the library and its over 950 user seats.
The expanded Duke Library will house an extensive and growing collection of print and multimedia materials, rare books and archives, and digital resources. It will also be the engaged learning laboratory of the University, providing trained consultants, electronic classrooms and media rooms, and a physical layout that encourages individual and collaborative research.
The library of the future will be evaluated not by the number of items cataloged, but by how efficiently it makes both print and electronic resources available, and how effectively it teaches students the complex, varied research skills necessary for leadership in the next century. The expanded library will be designed as a center of intellectual activity with spaces for both contemplative and collaborative scholarly activity and will facilitate intellectual exchanges among members of the university community.
We look forward to the completion of the design process and the bringing to fruition the concepts and opportunities for Furman University which this exceptional facility will provide.
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During the first half of Schematic Design, two fundamentally different schemes were investigated and evaluated as to their success at meeting the following criteria:
In general terms Schemes A and B were differentiated only by their massing, number of floors and development of interior space. They were, in fact, quite similar by:
Scheme A added four floors to the existing structure and separated the new and existing with a dramatic three story, top lit atrium. In order to achieve an harmonious effect for the exterior, the stack tower's massing was exactly doubled to the west with the new floors (2 and 3) set within at a 14 foot floor to floor height. Aligning the new floors with the existing stack levels is now prohibited by code, but the primary reason for a different floor to floor height was to overcome the spatial and psychological separation of the 23-foot vertical separation between the first and second floors in the existing library. The primary HVAC mechanical spaces were located in the existing and new attics above the third floors.
The design intent behind the creation of this scheme was encourage users to perceive the building as a whole and "be invited" to the upper collections and reading areas. This was effected and reinforced by the atrium which allowed visual connection between floors, by a central open monumental stair which connected all levels and by a more "manageable" floor to floor height (14 feet) which lessened the vertical walking distance between floors. As a consequence of the smaller floor plate there was more daylit perimeter for locating reader seating and the collection was broken down into smaller blocks than in Scheme B.
Scheme B added only two floors (ground and first) to the existing structure and maintained the existing stack tower as is. The primary HVAC spaces for the entire library was placed over the new addition but set back from the western facade to maintain the appearance of only two stories compatible with the exiting low wings which were also extended. Within the new addition a major two story top lit space was developed with a monumental stair uniting the ground and first floors.
The design intent behind the creation of this scheme, featuring a clear separation between new and existing, was to develop an addition which facilitated phasing and did not require a seismic upgrade for the existing structure. In consequence of its larger floor plates, the collection could be placed with maximum efficiency.
Review of Schemes A & B (August 24)
The Library Faculty was very supportive of Scheme A's approach to unifying all levels of the building and not continuing the isolation of the collection in the existing stack tower. They saw a user advantage to having smaller stack "blocks" and a much greater variety of reader spaces, inherent in a scheme which dispersed them on four levels. They also felt that Scheme A allowed other functions to migrate to the second and third floors should the growth of bound periodicals diminish.
Until the Faculty review, the Steering Committee felt that Scheme B was the only prudent choice because of the much higher projected cost of Scheme A due to the required seismic upgrade, more extensive structural intervention, much greater exterior wall, and increased HVAC and electrical which was required for the atrium. Scheme A also required a much more complicated phasing scenario to accommodate the continued use of the library during construction.
The Steering Committee was impressed by the arguments of the Faculty, which underscored and stressed the need for a finished library, which was spatially unified as well as flexible. They did not retreat from their conclusion that Scheme B was the correct choice but felt that the "patti" should be modified to respond to the Faculty's criticism. To do this, they decided that all library collections, apart from the Special Collections and Archives, should be placed on the ground and first floors of the library where they would be immediately accessible to the user. In doing so, the third floor was eliminated by removing the self-supporting stacks and the remaining second floor used for Special Collections, Archives and Administration.
A proposed extension of the monumental stair in the two story atrium was eliminated in further studies because of the dilution of the strong visual connection between the ground and first floor. Also, preferred operation for Special Collections required a single point of entry for the visitor from the main entrance to the library.
On August 25, the Steering Committee approved modified Scheme B as the scheme to be developed for the Schematic Submission. All subsequent meetings and reviews (ending with those of September 24 and 25) were devoted to the refinement and development of that Scheme.
The main stair is re configured to enter this floor on axis with the open Multimedia Commons, which visually leads to the monumental stair at the heart of the library connecting the entrance floor above. To the left of the Commons is the Center for Collaborative Learning and Communication and adjacent to it, to the west, are Technical Services. Immediately to the right is the breakout space for the large Library Instructional Lab, the Multimedia Room and the entrance to the Educational Curriculum collection and instructional area. Proceeding down the Commons, on the right are the Media Collection and the highly visible Help Desk backed up by the Academic Computing Support area with its Computer Lab.
At the heart of the building is a two story top lit reading space which provides user orientation and leads to the collections, reader spaces and group studies of the new addition. To the left and the right are large stack compaction areas for bound periodicals (on the south) and general collection (on the north). Surrounding the collection on the exterior walls are reader areas, which will be given spatial diversity by manipulation of the ceiling plane, different lighting, as well as by different fenestration on the exterior walls.
A new entry vestibule protrudes into the portico area; gives an expanded lobby area upon entering the building as well as comfortable interior access to the 24-hour study, which extends across the building facade to the left of the entrance. Circulation is immediately to the left upon entering the library and the main reference desk, backed up by the reference offices immediately to the right. Straight ahead, within the central two story space is located the Reference Commons backed by reader areas. These reader areas are then backed by collections with the Current Periodicals to the south with its reader areas placed on the exterior and the Reference and Government Documents collections to the north with their reader areas placed on the exterior. From the Reference Commons the user would proceed through a general reading area, with the New and Leisure Collec- tions, to reach the monumental stair at the heart of the building in the two story top lit space connecting the First and Ground Floors. To the north and the south are the building "cores" which contain group study areas, building services and toilet room.
The new addition is planned in a very similar way with the disposition of stacks, reader areas and group studies as the Ground Floor below. The major distinction is that the bulk of the "open" general collection is on this floor and that spatially there is a balcony overlook to the floor below.
The existing stair and relocated elevator give immediate access to the Furman Room on this floor which acts as a lobby/display area. This is the focus of this floor and provides entrance to both the Special Collections and Archives (to the west) and the Library Administrative Suite (to the north). At the heart of the Special Collections and Archives area is its Reading room with staff support areas placed to the north and the collection archival materials to the south. The Pitt room is reused as a both a general conference room as well as the administrative conference room. A new emergency egress stair has been threaded down to the south of the Pitt room and egresses under the portico on the First Floor.
INTERIOR SPATIAL ORGANIZATION
The goal for the library interior was to provide both spatial clarity and a sense of interconnectedness for the user within a "seamless" joining of existing and new. To reinforce this, a hierarchy of interior spaces is designed to provide both drama and variety in their use of different ceiling heights, natural and artificial lighting, exterior fenestration and finishes.
The entry sequence into the library has been redefined with the new exterior vestibule, expanded lobby and re configuration of the existing two story high space. Curved soffits reaching the ceiling rise over both the Circulation and Reference Desk areas changing the whole spatial perception of the room. This is reinforced by replacing the existing ceiling with a coffered one, using chandeliers for lighting and an extensive use of wood paneling for both the columns and room fascias. The lowered ceilings will contrast this space over the collection areas to the north, south and west. On the south and north the ceiling height will rise over the reader areas placed along the exterior wall to take advantage of the views of the beautifully landscaped grounds.
Careful placement of the interior "core" as well as stack orientation has provided a great sense of openness from the Reference Commons by providing unobstructed views to the exterior in all the cardinal directions.
At the center of the library is a two story top lit space with a monumental stair connecting both floors. This space psychologically connects the whole library and provides drama and interest with its monumental stair, reader overlooks, and steel trusses supporting the skylight above. The wood paneling on the building "cores" will provide a rich backdrop. Except for the hard surfaces of the entrance lobby and stair, the library floors will be carpeted in a variety of patterns and borders will reinforce and distinguish individual spaces.
In the new addition, the ceilings over the stacks will be at a uniform height and will be contrasted by coffered and raised ceilings over the interior reading areas as well as the general reading area along the western facade. At the four corners of the addition, the ceiling will be sculpted to take advantage of the gable roof above.
With the existing building, a sense of openness and expanse is created by the high ceiling Multimedia Commons which runs east west and connects the re configured main entrance stair with the monumental stair at the heart of the library. This space would be coffered and have special up lighting for additional drama. Visually it would be enlivened by activity around the prominent help desk. Within the existing structure, program elements are arranged so place the instructional areas (which do not demand exterior lighting) inboard and to place the user/staff spaces along the exterior wall to take advantage of the new windows.
The development of the top lit atrium as well as the stack/reader areas has been described in the First Floor. The two floors will be developed in a similar manner except that the slab above will limit the development of the ceiling plane of the Ground Floor.
The finishes of this floor will be more modest than the floor above and the extent of wood paneling will be limited.
With the removal of the self supporting stacks, the major spaces on this floor will be able to take advantage of the second floor ceiling height, in particular the new Special Collections Room and the Furman Room. Both will have wood paneling, built in shelving and/or display and special lighting to highlight their importance. The Furman Room will be the focal space for the floor as it is the arrival space for both the main stair and connecting elevator from the first floor. This will function as the lobby/display area for both the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room as well as for the Administrative suite. The Pitt room will be refurbished to make it a general-purpose conference room.
EXTERIOR MASSING, LANDSCAPING AND ELEVATIONS
The existing library is extended to the west on the Gro und and First floors with a mechanical room placed on the roof enveloping the two-story atrium at the center of the plan.
The gable wings flanking the main body of the library are extended in the new addition with a recessed separation between the new and existing which reflects the plan of the connecting stairs on the north and south facades. The western facade arcs out to provide a distinct character to the reader spaces behind. The roof is fiat, except for the gable extensions and the mechanical room, the roofs of which duplicate the slopes of the existing roofs they relate to. The aesthetic goals for the addition in both massing and in elevation treatment were to complement and preserve the character to the existing library. As with the development of the plan, the goals was to present a seamless entity where it would be difficult to distinguish between the existing a new as each was so complementary to the other.
A major goal for the design was to bring natural light to the existing ground floor. To achieve this, the earth is heavily re contoured to the north and south of the building and some existing trees as well as the low brick garden walls are removed. The re contouring is done in a "naturalistic" manner to preserve as many of the existing trees as possible by the artful use of hillocks, swales and rock retaining walls. At the south entrance, landscaping and reworking of the entrance terraces will be coordinated with the university to be integrated into their larger development of this area. The handicap ramp will be replaced and the stairs to the existing library portico will (perhaps) be changed to take more advantage of the forecourt proposed by the University.
To the casual observer, the east entry facade of the library will remain unchanged; however the building elevation under the portico will be changed with the addition of the new vestibule as well as modification to the fenestration to further dignify the facade.
Both the south and north elevations will be treated in a similar manner with both the new and the existing portions of this elevation composed with the same ABA rhythm and separated by recessed glass providing light to the egress stairs. The A portion of the rhythm is represented by preservation of the existing window/balcony motif which is expanded by placing a window, similar in character, below the balcony to bring light to the Ground Floor. The B portion of the rhythm is represented by a large glass expanse filling the structural bay between. For the existing building there are four structural bays and the windows within each bay are treated in an ABABA rhythm and on the first floor are surrounded by limestone trim. The B portion of the new addition, with is single bay is enlivened by an apsidal projection, giving a special character to the reading space behind and recalling the projecting windows on the library floors above.
The west elevation is composed in an ABCBA rhythm, with the center focus (C) being the limestone clad, 5 bay wide, curved reading area which is raised to counterbalance the horizontality of this long, low facade. The window division between the bays will be similar to those on the north and west elevations of the existing. Its night time aspect will be very important as its illumination and transparency will signal the library's presence to the campus at a whole, as during the day it provides a superb overlook to the Student Center and the lake beyond. These reading areas are flanked by a more solid expression (B) of the same window division motif and have group studies behind them. The corners of the building (A) are treated compositionally the same as northeast and southeast corners of the existing structure.
The mechanical penthouse is set back from all the principal facades and has vertical, metal panel covered wall which rise to the height of the gable peaks over the wings. It has a mansard roof and a skylight centered over the atrium space below.