Shepley Bulfinch has won the “Single Space” category in the 2012 Library Interior Design Competition for the Learning Commons for Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library. The biennial design award is jointly sponsored by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and the American Library Association (ALA).
The 2010 interior renovation transformed an existing 1980s library into a dynamic gathering place and center of teaching, learning, and scholarship for the communities of the Atlanta University Center’s four constituent Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Central to Shepley Bulfinch’s design response was the creation of a learning commons to span from the main entrance to the central stair. This now serves as the library’s welcoming ‘front door’ and provides primary services and a variety of settings for learning, working, and collaborating.
The design challenges included creating an entry sequence to orient patrons and highlight services; establishing a sense of identity visible from the exterior; and providing a flexible extended-hours access for part of the learning commons. The original marble entry stairs, which were meant to convey a sense of grandeur to visitors, were re-envisioned as a seating area for poetry readings and other small events. They also became a natural demarcation for a portion of the learning commons that could be secured from the rest of the library as an extended-hours space. A glass folding door rises vertically during normal operating hours to act as a canopy. +