The second of four new landmark buildings called for in the University of Minnesota's master plan, the Elmer L. Andersen Library was meant to be special. According to those who worked on the project, it took on a personality all its own. "The building converted everyone that worked on it into an amateur, in that we were all doing our part on the building for the love of the building," says Donald Kelsey, university libraries planning officer.
Though the four-story steel-frame and brick building may not seem spectacular in appearance, it offers more to the eye and spirit than the typical institutional structure. Minneapolis-based architects Stageberg Beyer Sachs Inc. designed the building with attention to the surrounding landscape. Windows feature views of the Mississippi River on whose west bank the building stands.
The interior program seeks to mesh open space with the research and classroom areas of the building. "[Project designer] James Stageberg's use of wood and stone resulted in a very elegant space," says Kelsey. According to Stageberg, every building should have at least one "oh, wow" space. "The atrium really stops people in their tracks," says Kelsey.
Comprising one-third of the building's cylindrical interior, the atrium extends through the upper three stories of the building via a circular staircase. A glass wall is all that separates the research areas from the atrium. Ringed walkways are features of the second and third levels. "The human activity of research is part of the architecture of the building," says Kelsey.