University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) is an urban, public institution with strong commitments to research, sustainability, and community and an enrollment of approximately 15,000 students.
Because a large number of UMKC students commute to campus, the university needed to create a central place to support learning, collaboration, study, and research. They wanted a dynamic, energized the space that erased the old mandates of no talking, no eating, and cranky librarians.
The new information commons was also intended to serve a working prototype and testing laboratory for group study space.
The project team had to renovate one floor of the existing building within a very limited budget.
Implementing a sweeping new vision for the library started with building an automated storage and retrieval system next to the existing structure. By relocating most of the collection, copious space became available for bold new configurations.
The design team then conducted focus groups with students. These conversations revealed that the students had a wide range of needs, including:
- Wireless technology and power outlets throughout the building
- Flexible furniture
- Both open and enclosed spaces for group study
- Areas designated for quiet study
- Areas with permanent desktop computers
- Lockers to secure laptops and other valuables during restroom or coffee breaks
- Easy access to library staff
The resulting design gives the students all this and more. White boards and wall-hung monitors facilitate collaboration. A large flexible area accommodates presentations, films, poetry readings, and other events. A café is centrally located within the space, and library staff members are situated throughout entire the floor.
As the students, faculty, and staff use the new space, surveys are being conducted to assess what works and what doesn’t. As funds permit, the best ideas will be replicated on other floors of the building.
The library information commons is an energized, flexible environment for group study that puts modern, functional tools at the students’ fingertips.
With Sasaki Associates and Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets, Inc.
Bill Manginelli Photography