Douglas College Library Modernization: Redefining the campus library experience
Douglas College wanted to adapt their existing library space to facilitate new ways of learning and collaboration amongst students. With our portfolio of existing library modernizations and new builds such as the TFDL, Beaumont Library, Stony Plain Library, as well as our established connection with the campus team, we were a natural selection for the project.
The adaptive re-use and reconfiguration of existing spaces challenges us to implement new design elements into spaces that were originally constructed with different programmatic intentions. For example, low ceiling heights and a lack of power supply in the middle of floor plates limited students’ ability to freely move around the space and find alternative ways of working while in the library. Additionally, space allocation was still in favour of book storage and collections, meaning study and collaboration space was limited. Re-thinking the prioritization of space was therefore a crucial first step. Integrating with student’s schedules is also a challenge faced on all campus renovations as we have to phase project implementation to take advantage of downtimes of student activity.
The design drivers and concept for the library renovation were developed in collaboration with Douglas College. They had a goal of transforming the library by redefining the entrance sequence, facilitating digital and collaborative work, and making the library a place of congregation within the campus. Our education & research team’s long-standing relationship allowed for open and constructive communication amongst the project team. We led stakeholder consultation, programing evaluation and visioning, to develop a concept that reflects the library’s special role on campus as the “learning commons” for the campus community and integrates it dynamically with the adjacent “social commons” of the existing atrium.
The faceted panels at the entryway create a pronounced threshold that distinguishes the library from the rest of the campus, while the angled doorway accepts pedestrian flow from the busy concourse. The layering of drop ceilings and different flooring materials define spaces and movement through the space without the need to partition or close areas off. Within the layered drop panels are recessed linear lights that create a guided procession through a hierarchy of spaces that begins with collaborative, open conversation areas on the ground floor and a reduced stacks collection and private study areas on the second floor. We worked closely with the Chief Librarian and leaned on our previous experience to effectively reallocate space throughout the library. Lastly, to encourage flexibility and freedom of movement, we safely created new utilities channels within the concrete floorplates to bring power and communication connection to the centre of the space.
In the age of instant information, academic libraries are transforming; more now the place to connect at the heart of the campus – Douglas College envisioned their library as much a social space as one for research and learning.”
The success of the library modernization continued the lineage of transformative renovations completed on campus. It facilitated the opportunity for learning to take place through social interaction, aligning the space with the updated approach to knowledge transfer supported by the College. Our consistent on-site presence throughout project implementation ensured our shared vision was brought to fruition. Through the completion of the library and nearly two decades of project work, we have established ourselves as one of Douglas College’s trusted integrated architectural and interior design partners. Several large and small-scale renovations have redefined the student and staff experience at both the New Westminster and Coquitlam campuses.
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