Following a recent groundbreaking ceremony in Philadelphia, Temple University’s new library designed by Snøhetta is now under construction. Developed in collaboration with Stantec, the building is set to open in the fall of 2018, adjacent to a future campus quadrangle. Situated at the intersection of two major pedestrian pathways, the design seeks to establish a new social and academic heart for the community of 37,800 students. Coinciding with the groundbreaking, new images documenting the plans in further detail have been released.
The new library uses an ‘automated book retrieval system’ (ASRS) to store the majority of the university’s more than two million volumes. The ASRS significantly reduces the amount of space needed to store books, and allows the building to provide more collaborative learning space and other student resources. As a new social hub for the university community, the library houses multiple partner programs and academic resources such as the writing center, digital scholars studio, and office space for staff researchers. The porous design creates a visual connection to the main atrium and entries, allowing greater accessibility.
The fourth floor opens up onto an outdoor terrace which overlooks the future quadrangle. Here, stepped seating rises alongside a gently sloped green roof, while native plants and grasses create a pleasant visual backdrop. The 46,000 sqf green roof manages and harvests rainwater year-round, detaining inrush from major storms for controlled release back into the soil.
Arriving at the fully glazed top floor, visitors reach traditional browsing stacks holding 200,000 volumes in an open linear plan. The space terminates at a sun-filled reading room with uninterrupted views in three directions. The aperture of the oculus allows users to look down back to lobby. The ASRS occupies the lowest level with the browsable stacks positioned on the highest floor. Exposed concrete columns provide a contrast with warm wood features, lending the spaces an inviting, casual atmosphere for learning.
Inviting external canopies encourage students to gather in social spaces outside the library. Terraced plazas step up to the entrances, providing opportunities for outdoor classrooms and informal gatherings. This intends to extend the learning environment beyond the physical boundaries of the library space and into the fabric of the campus as a whole. A flexible event space along the western façade of the building seats about 120 for lectures, conferences, and a variety of gatherings.