More than just good books

Kerry Boettcher
Wednesday 25 Feb 2015

James B. Hunt Library at North Carolina State University wins AIA/ALA Library Building Award

Snøhetta in collaboration with local architect Clark Nexsen (formerly PBC+L), received the 2013 

Library Building Award from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association in recognition of design excellence.

For the design of the new building, Snøhetta and Clark Nexsen worked closely with the NCSU Libraries to set a new benchmark for technologically sophisticated collaborative learning spaces. It serves both as NC State’s second main library and the intellectual and social heart of the university’s Centennial Campus. The Hunt Library also houses the Institute for Emerging Issues, a think tank led by former North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, academic 

offices, visualisation and digital media labs and an auditorium. It is designed to be a decisive competitive edge for the university by democratising access to the technologies driving our economy.

Libraries are dynamic and continually changing. While clearly a contemporary structure within a traditional context, the Hunt Library provides a forward-thinking platform for influencing its surroundings. Both technical and programmatic innovations are celebrated as part of the learning experience and provide a versatile and stimulating environment for the user.  

Generous open spaces connect all floors of the library and open stairs emphasise an interactive and social environment alongside more focused study areas. A wide variety of study and learning environments and technology-focused experimental labs go beyond the now ubiquitous model of the learning commons. ‘Disruptive’ learning spaces with colorful, dynamic furnishings exist adjacent to more traditional study rooms. The building’s design recognizes the power of chance encounters and celebrates the role physical space plays in the intellectual stimulation of its users.

Technology zones are integrated throughout the Library as well. Interactive digital surfaces and high definition video display screens deliver both programmed and live-feed information. The Game Lab serves as a testing lab for the video game design and development program, and provides students with a fun study break area. The Tech Showcase allows users to experiment with new technology and borrow the latest electronic devices. Staff areas are consolidated on one floor rather than dispersed in clusters on each floor. 

The Hunt Library also employs the use of the bookBot, an automated book delivery system, for the Library’s two million volume collection. This highly effective cost and space saving measure reduced the building area by 200,000 GSF, allowing more of the University’s budget and library space to be allocated towards technology and collaborative learning spaces. 

The LEED Silver building provides abundant natural light, outdoor work spaces and expansive views of the nearby lake. Many sustainable design features are integrated into the building including fritted glass and a fixed external aluminum shading system helps diminish heat gain while maximising views and ambient natural light. Ceiling mounted active chilled beams and radiant panels provide heating and cooling while rain gardens and green roofs manage storm water.

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