Contract - Interiors Awards 2014: Education

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Interiors Awards 2014: Education

24 January, 2014

-By By Regina Baraban. Photography by Jonathan Hillyer and Peter Vanderwarker


UMass Dartmouth Claire T. Carney Library
Designer: designLAB architects
Client: UMass Dartmouth
Location: North Dartmouth, Massachusetts


"This was one of the most challenging projects submitted: it takes a dark, old Paul Rudolph building and transforms it into a bright, energetic space while respecting the existing architecture. Credit the client for seeking a redesign instead of demolition." -Jury

When Paul Rudolph designed the masterplan and buildings at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus, the library building that opened in 1973 was part of his utopian vision for a humanistic academic environment that encouraged people to connect and interact. Constructed in cast-in-place concrete and concrete block, it was a prime example of Rudolph’s Brutalist architecture. During the decades that followed, Rudolph’s design no longer resonated, modifications were made, and the role of a library shifted as information became increasingly available online. The seemingly harsh concrete building appeared dated and unloved. Until now, that is.

Transformed by a $34 million renovation and addition by Boston–based designLAB architects that updated Rudolph’s vision into a state-of-the-art gathering place, the Claire T. Carney Library has become a destination and a star building on campus. “Our vision, from the very early stages, was about a complete transformation while respecting—and perhaps even enhancing—the original architectural character,” says designLAB project manager Ben Youtz. “Over 40 years, through various small renovations and finish changes, the original vibrancy of the design was lost, and we needed to reinvent the library for the needs and wants of 21st century students.”

DesignLAB served as executive architect, working with Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Austin Architects for the roughly 22,000-square-foot addition and 150,000-square-foot renovation. “The architects had a monumental job,” says Assistant Dean of Library Services Catherine A. Fortier-Barnes, who helped oversee the project from its initial feasibility study.Indeed, the huge scope of the project encompassed multiple goals and objectives. “A big determining factor was how to get students in the door,” says Kelly Ard Haigh, designLAB project architect in charge of the interior. Flexibility was also key, since all of the furnishings needed to be moveable. “And who can know what the library of the future is going to look like? I wanted the design to give future librarians flexibility as well,” Haigh says.

To free prime real estate, half of the library’s collection of approximately 225,000 volumes was relocated to new shelves in a basement. The five floors above now accommodate study and social areas—including digital media labs, event space, and a cafe—as well as office space for 80 staff members. Cantilevered nooks, which had become offices over time, were reclaimed as study niches to reflect Rudolph’s original design intent. “These are now the most popular study spaces on campus,” Fortier-Barnes says. Most of the formerly fragmented office spaces, housing various university departments, have been relocatedto a single floor.

The new addition encloses a previously dark, underbelly corridor with glass and stainless steel curtain walls. This treatment was also applied to much of the existing building’s exterior, creating a unified profile and placing the original concrete structure on display. “The spacing and repetition of the stainless steel fins echoes the cadence of Rudolph’s original design modules,” Youtz says.

The inviting interior of the addition has become known as the campus living room and includes a takeout cafe, fireplaces, modular seating, and sculptural walnut benches. The architects reintroduced Rudolph’s original red, orange, and purple color scheme, using the most vivid colors on the heavily trafficked lower floors and mellower hues on the quieter upper floors. The concept for the addition’s interior harkens back to Rudolph’s intent to encourage “happenings” on campus. “What Rudolph wanted was to get people to hang out, have conversations, and make connections between the different academic disciplines,” Haigh says.

Since the renovation and addition were completed, the number of library users has more than doubled, and students often wait for the doors to open at 7:30 a.m. “People are speechless when they see how the library has been transformed,” Fortier-Barnes says, “and it is very much a part of every recruitment and admission event. It has become an icon of the campus.”




Interiors Awards 2014: Education

24 January, 2014


UMass Dartmouth Claire T. Carney Library
Designer: designLAB architects
Client: UMass Dartmouth
Location: North Dartmouth, Massachusetts


"This was one of the most challenging projects submitted: it takes a dark, old Paul Rudolph building and transforms it into a bright, energetic space while respecting the existing architecture. Credit the client for seeking a redesign instead of demolition." -Jury

When Paul Rudolph designed the masterplan and buildings at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus, the library building that opened in 1973 was part of his utopian vision for a humanistic academic environment that encouraged people to connect and interact. Constructed in cast-in-place concrete and concrete block, it was a prime example of Rudolph’s Brutalist architecture. During the decades that followed, Rudolph’s design no longer resonated, modifications were made, and the role of a library shifted as information became increasingly available online. The seemingly harsh concrete building appeared dated and unloved. Until now, that is.

Transformed by a $34 million renovation and addition by Boston–based designLAB architects that updated Rudolph’s vision into a state-of-the-art gathering place, the Claire T. Carney Library has become a destination and a star building on campus. “Our vision, from the very early stages, was about a complete transformation while respecting—and perhaps even enhancing—the original architectural character,” says designLAB project manager Ben Youtz. “Over 40 years, through various small renovations and finish changes, the original vibrancy of the design was lost, and we needed to reinvent the library for the needs and wants of 21st century students.”

DesignLAB served as executive architect, working with Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Austin Architects for the roughly 22,000-square-foot addition and 150,000-square-foot renovation. “The architects had a monumental job,” says Assistant Dean of Library Services Catherine A. Fortier-Barnes, who helped oversee the project from its initial feasibility study.Indeed, the huge scope of the project encompassed multiple goals and objectives. “A big determining factor was how to get students in the door,” says Kelly Ard Haigh, designLAB project architect in charge of the interior. Flexibility was also key, since all of the furnishings needed to be moveable. “And who can know what the library of the future is going to look like? I wanted the design to give future librarians flexibility as well,” Haigh says.

To free prime real estate, half of the library’s collection of approximately 225,000 volumes was relocated to new shelves in a basement. The five floors above now accommodate study and social areas—including digital media labs, event space, and a cafe—as well as office space for 80 staff members. Cantilevered nooks, which had become offices over time, were reclaimed as study niches to reflect Rudolph’s original design intent. “These are now the most popular study spaces on campus,” Fortier-Barnes says. Most of the formerly fragmented office spaces, housing various university departments, have been relocatedto a single floor.

The new addition encloses a previously dark, underbelly corridor with glass and stainless steel curtain walls. This treatment was also applied to much of the existing building’s exterior, creating a unified profile and placing the original concrete structure on display. “The spacing and repetition of the stainless steel fins echoes the cadence of Rudolph’s original design modules,” Youtz says.

The inviting interior of the addition has become known as the campus living room and includes a takeout cafe, fireplaces, modular seating, and sculptural walnut benches. The architects reintroduced Rudolph’s original red, orange, and purple color scheme, using the most vivid colors on the heavily trafficked lower floors and mellower hues on the quieter upper floors. The concept for the addition’s interior harkens back to Rudolph’s intent to encourage “happenings” on campus. “What Rudolph wanted was to get people to hang out, have conversations, and make connections between the different academic disciplines,” Haigh says.

Since the renovation and addition were completed, the number of library users has more than doubled, and students often wait for the doors to open at 7:30 a.m. “People are speechless when they see how the library has been transformed,” Fortier-Barnes says, “and it is very much a part of every recruitment and admission event. It has become an icon of the campus.”

 


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