Insights


A New Vision for Academic Libraries

Academic libraries are radically reprogramming spaces and services to connect students to validated digital information and the expertise of library staff. Space that once housed printed information is being opened for people to collaborate and create. When the multi-year, multi-phased University of Pittsburgh Hillman Library renovation is complete, it will add 401 seats (a 15 percent increase) and enhanced digital services in a welcoming environment that inspires discovery. At Carnegie Mellon University’s Sorrells Engineering and Science Library, reprogramming and a few strategic design moves have resulted in 115 percent increase in user occupancy.

To better support 21st century students and the campus community, the 230,000-sf Hillman Library project addressed three primary program enhancements:

  • Creation: Digital resources – data visualization and making
  • Discovery: Digital browsing of Special Collections and unique research
  • Discourse and Dissemination: Supportive space for study and research accommodating both focused study and interdisciplinary collaboration; forum for intersection between the academic and civic communities

How does design help draw students deep into the information universe? I examine details in both libraries in this piece I wrote for Tradeline.

Anne Chen is a principal at GBBN where she leads transformative projects in higher education, community development, and the arts. She co-leads GBBN’s annual Design Expedition (DX) trips exploring architecture and design. You can read more of her insights here.

Read more about the Hillman Library and Sorrells Library.

Learn more about GBBN’s work in higher education.