In February 2014, BNIM and a multi-disciplinary team of high performance, integrated design consultants were contracted by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to provide comprehensive design services to adaptively reuse Price Gilbert Memorial Library and Crosland Tower on the Georgia Institute of Technology Campus. The two buildings will be transformed into Georgia Tech’s vision for the Research Library of the 21st Century.
The project is a critical initiative of the Campus Strategic Plan and vision for transforming the campus into a knowledge-based community, including deepening its connection and interaction with Atlanta and the State of Georgia and redefining the role of the University. Defining the Research Library of the 21st Century was an intentional, focused and informed process involving the entire campus.
The transformation is founded on changes in the way that students and faculty currently use the library, as well as future trends in library utilization on peer campuses across the country. No longer a building where knowledge is simply stored, Georgia Tech conceived of a place where knowledge is generated. Stacks of books are moved offsite to create spaces for people, whether they want to study alone or discuss ideas in collaborative groups. To aid with the discovery of knowledge, the role of the traditional librarian is redefined, shaping them into connectors who assist students in bridging the gap between what they know and what they want to know.
The BNIM team utilized the community’s vision and roadmap findings to program and design the transformation of both buildings into a scholarly community of inspirational spaces. In the spirit of a knowledge-based community, the new library design aspires to be extroverted and porous, and it is well integrated and connected to the campus and community. Central to the long-term success of Price Gilbert and Crosland Tower is the concept of “long life, loose fit” — that the ability to address future, unanticipated needs is something that can be designed. Price Gilbert, with its open plan and high-ceiling reading rooms, is already an exemplar of this mentality; the goal is to capitalize on and retain its adaptable nature while providing for the same at Crosland Tower. The renovation creates spaces that are functional, flexible, and have plentiful daylight and views. The design team is incorporated many sustainable strategies into the design, including chilled beams for cooling and LED lighting throughout the buildings. After the renovation, the population using the buildings has doubled—the 1,250 seats in the buildings grew to 2,360—yet total energy consumption is reduced by about a third, and energy consumption per capita is 80% less than previously.
It was Georgia Tech's top priority to renew these built assets and extend their useful lives. The improvements involve careful consideration of the building envelope, energy use, building systems, accessibility and life safety requirements, occupant health and well-being, and connection to the surrounding campus. The two buildings operate as one library composed of complementary yet individual architectures.