By Eric Althoff
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.—Rutgers University, which has resided along the Raritan River since 1766, is older than the United States itself, and thus has had quite some time to build up its library. Now, in the 21st century, the university has added a digital library to complement its rather extensive collection of books.
General contractor Unity Construction Services worked in conjunction with design firm Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., to construct the Digital Learning Commons at the Rutgers University Archibald S. Alexander Library, the oldest and most extensive of the libraries at the main campus in New Brunswick. The Alexander Library supports 16 doctoral programs as well as four professional schools.
In an era of digital openness, Spiezle’s architectural design aims for an “open concept” so as to be welcoming for all manner of visitors. Accordingly, it features areas dedicated to group meetings, studying and research—and with sound barriers and moveable seating areas for either collaborative or silent study. Spiezle applied a color scheme featuring natural, bright tones meant to be a natural addition to the sunlight allowed in through the library’s many windows.
The 16,000-square-foot space also offers meeting rooms, computer labs as well as rooms set up specifically for video conferencing and digital presentations. Spiezle’s designers applied a pinwheel configuration so that everyone can see everyone else during a group meeting.
“Our design vision focused on creating an open and inviting environment that integrated a variety of technology and services, while at the same time capitalizing on the existing physical qualities of the space—which included high ceilings, dynamic views, and natural light,” John Wright, principal of higher education at Spiezle, said in a recent statement. “Improving the student experience was at the forefront of every decision. Now more than ever, it is crucial to create responsive and adaptable learning spaces, focused on student and faculty wellbeing, that support and promote the diverse offerings that truly define the Rutgers experience.”
Wright added that his firm was proud to help the Alexander Library transition into a paradigm that will see a hybrid of both digital study as well as the older method of researching through printed material.
“It is a physical manifestation of a truly holistic and collaborative planning and design effort. We would not have achieved such success without the dedication and contributions of the University project team as well as all involved in the construction,” Wright said. “The Digital Learning Commons have already become a feature destination standout on the College Avenue campus and will inspire social and educational advancement for decades to come.”
Spiezle Architectural Group was founded in 1954, and their portfolio includes healthcare, corporate, hospitality, senior living and government projects.