This multi-phase interior renovation consists of the major reconfiguration and redesign of library spaces spread over four floors of the Alkek Library. The resulting renovation of the Library provides enhancements to spaces and services already provided, introduces new services and opportunities not currently offered, and incorporates current technological advancements in an active learning environment. At the onset of the project, the Owner provided our team with recommendations for the first, third, and fourth floors that took shape through proposed design concepts and meetings with Library and project stakeholders. Each floor of the Library Learning Commons centers around a theme that makes it easy for students to navigate the building and create a functional layout that blends traditional library services with access to innovative technology studios. 

The 10,710 SF first floor centers on “Digital Literacy” and shifts from the spaces of a typical academic library to focus on content creation. The program focuses on three main centers: X-Reality, Creative Manufacturing, and Dimensional Exploration. These centers are supported by a Digital Design Studio, Graphic Design Studio, Print Shop, Soundworks Studio, AV Editing Studio, a Video Recording Studio, and an IT Assistance Center (ITAC) Help Desk. 

With the speed of technology advancements, the spaces need to adapt, be flexible, and allow for growth. To maximize flexibility, the majority of this space incorporates a low-profile raised access floor for power and data distribution. Glass storefront walls are used to achieve an open floor plan while maintaining sight lines into spaces that are enclosed for privacy, to contain noise, or to secure equipment. The renovation of the first floor and the introduction of the new Digital Literacy Centers is going to draw more students to this level. In order to streamline the traffic, and for convenience, a new entry is being constructed. This area has comfortable seating and the opportunity for displays to showcase the products that are being created.

The main entry is located on the 555 SF second floor due to the topography of the site. This access point will be accentuated by the installation of a Starbucks. An existing, large circulation desk will be relocated to the third floor and replaced with a smaller service point. 

The theme on the 29,465 SF third floor is “Research Commons” and includes all of the collection, Graduate Student Commons, the circulation desk, laptop checkout, and open seating / study areas. Tall shelving that blocks sightlines and natural light from reaching the center of the floor will be replaced with lower, 66” shelving that will dramatically change the nature of the space. The open seating areas will be zoned with the use of different furniture types to promote different styles of learning and studying. 

The 17,642 SF fourth floor is focused on the theme of “Education” with existing tutoring spaces occupying the majority of this level. New elements include an Instruction Lab / Breakout Space and open reading / study space. 

Phased construction will allow the Alkek Library, Learning Commons to remain operational during this renovation project. Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2019. 

HBM │ Design Architect, Interior Designer

BRW │ Architect of Record

1382 West Ninth Street, Suite 300
Cleveland, Ohio 44113


© 2019 HBM Architects, LLC