Originally published in Interiors & Sources

06/01/2012

Library Science

Perkins+Will transforms UCLA’s Charles E. Young Research Library into a sustainable, high-tech environment where talking is actually encouraged.

By Adam Moore

 
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    View larger

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    The entry to the Charles E. Young Research Library has been refreshed and filled with glass to create a brighter, more inviting atmosphere for students and faculty. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0612/I_0612_Web_PE_UCLA_3.jpg

    The entry to the Charles E. Young Research Library has been refreshed and filled with glass to create a brighter, more inviting atmosphere for students and faculty. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0612/I_0612_Web_PE_UCLA_4.jpg

    The reading room also houses frequently used print reference materials, and provides both large table seating and individual lounge chairs. View larger

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    The research commons features 22 pods created with Steelcase’s media:scape line of collaborative technology and furniture, making it one of the largest installations of the product in the United States. View larger

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    The redesign added a number of program elements to the library, including a café and small lounge areas at each end of the street. View larger

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    The library’s glass-enclosed reading room supports quiet study and research, while still offering views of activities in the surrounding spaces. View larger

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    The street’s use of bold graphics, warm natural materials and abundant amounts of glass improves wayfinding, and creates a more social environment for students and staff. View larger

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    Because of the building’s concrete skeleton, acoustic control in the research commons was a priority; the use of acoustic ceiling tiles, carpeting and furniture screens helps keep sound levels manageable. View larger

SOURCES | CONTACT

 

The Charles E. Young Research Library, seated at the northern edge of a bustling UCLA campus, is considered by many to be a classic piece of Mid-Century Modern architecture, and a prime example of the innovative work done by A. Quincy Jones—himself a master of modernism and the dean of USC’s School of Architecture from 1951 to 1967.

The library has been serving graduate students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences since first opening in 1964, and it can be said that the building’s concrete skeleton, dark glass windows and deep floorplate reflect the weight and significance of the research happening inside.

Unfortunately, the interiors of the building reminded patrons of a different institution.

“It was a very tired and old space, and a lot of students had dubbed it ‘DMV-like.’ It was dark, dreary and had no real clear wayfinding,” says Angela Kunz, project manager with Perkins+Will, the global interdisciplinary firm tapped by UCLA in 2007 to reimagine the building’s first floor and lower level.

Tasked with pre-design, programming and design services for the library’s common areas (the traditional book stacks on the upper floors were not touched), the team from Perkins+Will began meeting with different constituent groups to get a sense of what they would like to see in the new space. But the main push for a wholesale transformation of the building’s common areas came from UCLA University Librarian Gary Strong and Deputy University Librarian Susan Parker, both of whom understood the importance of introducing technology and collaborative thinking to the world of academic research.

“This was a chance to bring the library into the modern era through technology and new approaches to socialization, to the position of the library becoming a center for student activity,” says Nick Seierup, design principal on the project.

The design team also looked for ways to open up the feel of the building, without overstepping its history. “We wanted to be respectful of the architecture, because it is a legacy piece from a well-known master, but to integrate new approaches to materiality, communication and the integration of technology that would transform it in a sparkling way,” Kunz explains.

The redesign eventually came to focus on three central themes: journey, discovery and collaboration. The theme of journey is best exemplified in the form of the street, a wide-open space that moves directly through the middle of the main floor, and provides easy access to a variety of experiences and informational opportunities, including:

  • The adjacent Laboratory for Digital Cultural Heritage, equipped with a large-screen projector and specialized workstations

  • A spacious, technology-equipped conference room, which has already accommodated conferences, film screenings and large group meetings

  • An expansive, glass-enclosed reading room for quiet work

  • The new tech-heavy research commons

  • A gallery featuring a range of library exhibits, based on collections which had been previously buried deep in the building and difficult to access

The journey itself has also been made much easier with a number of customized communication and wayfinding elements. Because so much of our communication now happens in a digital space, Perkins+Will Branded Environments helped create a new website for patrons that explains how the library can support their research efforts, and provides convenient tools to facilitate the research process. Bold graphics have also been applied to glass surfaces and walls throughout the space to help patrons identify zones and move efficiently through the building.

The widespread use of glass also helps light the space (although the size of the floorplate makes it a tall order) and creates a more appealing environment. A series of glass-fronted group study rooms run around the perimeter of the building, inviting students to socialize and network.

“In some ways it’s not revolutionary—we wanted to put the act of students doing research out on display, and not behind closed walls,” says Seierup. “You can immediately see if it’s available, you can see if a friend is in there—that sort of social aspect of study becomes a major part of the attraction to the library.”

“It’s almost a celebration of that act,” adds Eileen Jones, principal and national discipline leader for Perkins+Will Branded Environments. “It’s not something that you have to go hide in the corner to do. We should be celebrating knowledge creation.”

The library’s biggest celebration of that act can be seen in its new research commons. Featuring 22 technology-enabled “pods” capable of accommodating up to 10 users, the area has been built specifically to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and discovery through serendipity. Each pod is equipped with Steelcase’s media:scape platform, allowing students and faculty to share content on laptops and other devices on large LCD monitors. Collaborative furniture from the media:scape line facilitates focused group work, but also encourages people to mix and mingle between pods.

According to Kunz, the new space has been well-received by UCLA’s academic community. The integration of technology has made it especially popular among students, and faculty members are using the commons to teach small classes. “It’s usually standing room only when you go in there, and it’s really quite amazing to see the transformation,” she says.

Thanks to the university’s emphasis on sustainability—as of 2009, all new buildings and major retrofits at UCLA target LEED Silver certification or higher—the Young Research Library is also a healthier, greener place to study. Interior renovations are expected to achieve LEED Gold certification due to the use of efficient plumbing and lighting products, locally manufactured building materials and low-emitting products. The design team was able to reduce indoor water usage 53 percent below EPA standards, and lighting power usage 36 percent below California’s Title 24 standard.

Taken as a whole, the library’s reinvigorated spirit illustrates the transformative power of design. Students and staff continue to utilize the facility in record numbers—more than 195,000 people visited the library in the fall quarter of 2011, more than double the year before—while outside designers and administrators visit to see the change for themselves.

Never one for laurel-resting, Strong continues to dream up new ideas for incorporating collaborative thinking and technologies into UCLA’s library system—but he also feels confident about the new and improved positioning of the Young Research Library as it works to support the next generation of academic research.

“We developed these new spaces to support pedagogy and research both now and into the future,” he says. “Academic research libraries are no longer defined by their physical collections, and this redesign reshapes our collection access, services and facilities to support our users throughout their academic and professional careers.”

 

 

SOURCES:
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bathroom fixtures
Dyson
(866) 693-9766

Haws
(775) 359-4712

Kohler
(800) 456-4537

Sloan
(847) 671-4300


ceilings
Armstrong | 1
(877) ARMSTRONG


ceramic tile
Daltile


flooring
C/S Pedisystems

ECOsurfaces

 

Forbo
(800) 842-7839

Johnsonite
(800) 899-8916

Lees | 2

Shaw Contract Group | 3
(800) 257-7429

Wicanders | 4


furnishings
Coalesse | 5
(866) 645-6952

Steelcase | 6
(888) STEELCASE


glass elements
Pilkington | 7
(800) 221-0444

PPG Starphire

Pulp Studio | 8
(310) 815-4999


surfacing
Chemetal
(800) 807-7341

Dunn-Edwards
(888) 337-2468

Ideapaint
(800) 393-5250

Nevamar
(800) 638-4380

WilsonArt
(800) 433-3222


textiles
Bart Halprin
(212) 414-2727

Designtex
(800) 221-1540

 

Guilford of Maine
(800) 544-0200

Knoll
(800) 343-5665

Maharam
(800) 645-3943

Steelcase
(888) STEELCASE


window treatments
Mechoshade
(718) 729-2020


wood elements
Armstrong
(877) ARMSTRONG

Bacon Veneer
(630) 323-1414

Sierra Pine
(800) 676-3339

CONTACT:
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client
UCLA Charles E. Young
Research Library
280 Charles E. Young Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-4732
www.library.ucla.edu

project team
architecture + interior design
Perkins+Will
617 West Seventh Street Suite 1200 Los Angeles, CA 90017 (213) 270-8400
www.perkinswill.com

Jo Carmen,
managing/design principal

Nick Seierup,
design principal

James Kerrigan,
senior interior designer

 

 

Angela Kunz,
project manager

Neville Salvador,
project architect

Vajra Hodges, arch II

Andrea Stalker, arch II

Ed Kimoto,
technical coordinator

Simon Trude,
creative director

Ellen Young,
senior designer

KJ Kim,
designer

Lisa Coghlan Dolan,
project manager

Erin Althoff,
graphic production

m/e/p engineer/lighting consultant
IBE Consulting Engineers

structural engineer
John A. Martin& Associates

signage/graphics
Perkins+Will Branded Environments

custom furniture design
Tangram Studios

audio/visual consulting
PlanNet Consulting

photography
Paul Turang Photography
(310) 547-9771

 

 

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 
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