July 27, 2020

Three Projects Showcase the Importance and Prominence of the Academic Library

CannonDesign has participated in the planning, design and construction of over eight million square feet of library space around the country. Through strategic design and planning, we help ensure the role of the academic library continues to change and evolve. 

The following are three examples of how libraries have planned for the transformation into broader-based learning and research centers and organizational renewal.  

Lehigh University, E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library 

Built in two phases, the 1960’s and the 1980’s the EWFM library required a comprehensive facility assessment that evaluated the quality of the building components, the quality of the spaces and their appropriateness for learning and curriculum delivery. The result of the investigations indicated that over 50% of the area dedicated to library collections could be repurposed as integrated teaching, learning, research and study space.  

Envisioned as a three-phase project, the facility expands the role of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning and create deeper connections to innovative research spaces across campus.  The project evaluated existing conditions, identified ways to support new learning and teaching models, and better integrated the department of Technology Services into the library both physically and organizationally. 

On the Boards: University of Pennsylvania, Penn Libraries 


Penn Libraries consists of fourteen library facilities across campus and beyond. Comprehensive strategic planning services assessed the physical conditions, the services provided, and the collections held in two phases. The first phase started with an evaluation of each library facility and developed an outline of potential needs, institutional benchmarking, and a menu of trends and ideas.    

The second phase is forthcoming and will include workshops with key stakeholders and campus outreach that will assist in establishing priorities and recommending potential solutions based on the earlier assessment. This phase will focus on shaping a vision that can lead to improvements in the physical environmentthe ability to deliver exemplary library services and will strengthen the Penn Libraries’ mission. 

Rutgers University, Library Master Plan


The Rutgers University Library master plan envisioned a unified library system, 22 libraries in 14 facilities, committed to enhancing the information resources and technical services for the wider campus community in the near and long term. The education, research and community at Rutgers University depended on a vibrant and relevant library system that aligned with the university’s facilities master plan, administrative goals and overall strategic plan; in this master plan, the team provided a road map for the university to realize these objectives. 

The master plan framed the future of the university’s library system, which spans across three campuses, and includes a number of specialized libraries and bio-medical research facilities. The planning approach weaved 30,000 foot thinking together with more technical aspects of the study, including data gathering, student and faculty engagement, programming and space planning, as well as phasing approaches and costs. Ultimately, the library master plan aspired to craft the next chapter in innovation and excellence that is the hallmark of Rutgers University. 

We’ll continue to work closely with our clients to ensure that we not only provide stunning designs but are also developing facilities that stand the test of time. Keep an eye on this space for more news and insights on the future of libraries.