July 15, 2012

Hitting The Books at the Taylor Family Digital Library

Construction Canada

Open-access experiential learning is at the heart of the design for the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) at the University of Calgary. Housing more than half a million books and periodicals, the 24,000-m² (265,000-sf) building features:

● a large learning commons with café;

● workrooms;

● film and audio rooms;

● digital editing and recording suites;

● multimedia labs;

● quiet study areas; and

● seminar and consultation space for academic growth.

The library is organized according to sound and takes into consideration the transition of group discussions and brainstorming sessions customary at the beginning of the semester to quieter, more reflective work as the year progresses. The first three floors include a learning commons and café area in which students can meet in groups, while the upper floors are designed for individual learning, in addition to housing most of the library’s books. Modular walls that double as white boards allow for spaces to be reconfigured easily, and their use of vision glass provides occupants access to natural light. The entire library is Wi-Fi-enabled, with full cellular coverage throughout. An electrical outlet is situated at every public seat, while metal hooks allow students to lock their laptops to desks while they move about the library.

The focus on technology included the addition of dual monitor computers and touch tables, allowing students to work with several sets of data simultaneously, conduct trend analysis, and enable group interaction. The design team ‘future-proofed’ the library by including cabling and networking infrastructure throughout, enabling the addition of new technology in a more cost-effective manner.

Designing a building that would accommodate large numbers of people over long periods required considerations for indoor air quality (IAQ). Integrated raised floors measuring 660 mm (24 in.) high house the system and distribution networks, while disc-like diffusers circulate fresh air throughout the structure.

Construction of the $205-million, six-storey library was partly supported by a $25-million donation in honour of Don and Ruth Taylor. An outdoor public space named the Taylor Quadrangle runs east/west across the campus. In addition to the Taylor family’s donation, the library was funded by all three levels of government. The government of Alberta also donated $25 million through its matching gifts program, as well as additional funds for a total of $150.5 million. A $27-million contribution from the federal government went toward the Taylor Family Digital Library Project through its knowledge infrastructure program. The city of Calgary itself donated $3.2 million toward the digital library through its Calgary Arts Development Agency.

The TFDL is targeting LEED Gold-NC through the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).