Defined by winding, landscaped paths and pastel-colored Spanish Mediterranean-style architecture, the urban campus of Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBAU) includes a 1930s, octagon-shaped rotunda—once a highly revered campus chapel. Later converted into a library, the facility proved inadequate for current and future needs. The architect’s library planning team, along ASSOCIATED FIRMHanson Professional ServicesCOST PER SQ FT$205.00FEATURED IN2007 Educational Interiors2007 Architectural PortfolioINTERIOR CATEGORYLibraries/Media Centers the associated firm, was commissioned to assist PBAU in creating its “Library of the Future”—giving nod to the existing library’s features, while integrating contemporary elements. Phase I, opened in January 2007, will be complemented by the renovation of the 26,000-square-foot rotunda, as well as a connecting addition that began construction in mid-2007.
Working closely with PBAU staff and leadership, the design team created a concept that is a high-technology, user-friendly campus “living room.” Upon entry, patrons are led into a three-story atrium flooded with natural light from the above clerestory windows. An “information commons” features a variety of lounge seating and technology stations, as well as a dynamic, three-story staircase. Lining the west facade, a series of vertical sunshades control the amount of direct light to reach the interior. With flexibility a key concern, the new addition was designed structurally to internally house high-density shelving for the expected expansion of the 233,000-volume collection. In addition, three-inch raised floors were used, providing flexible wiring options for future furniture layouts. Through combinations of natural and controlled lighting, furniture and material finishes, every corner of the addition has become its own useful, comfortable space.
It has been said that the library is the “heart” of a university. The campus leadership and design team were inspired to save and transform the original library while preserving the authentic nature of its architectural style. Coupled with a focused sustainable-design concept, the two pieces unite to become Palm Beach Atlantic University’s “Library of the Future.”