University of Indianapolis ushers in a new age in learning
When students return to University of Indianapolis this fall, they’ll be checking out more than books when they visit the Krannert Memorial Library. They will have an all-new library to explore thanks to a major renovation project that’s taking place this summer – one that according to Andrea Newsom, University Director of Facility and Space Planning, will completely transform the old building into “a library for the next century.”
The $5.5 million renovation is part of the University’s Vision 2030 Strategic Plan, which calls for an array of capital projects and educational enhancements to benefit students, faculty and staff and the surrounding community.
The new library, originally built in 1977, is a key component of the university’s vision for the future. The 36,950 square-foot renovation will completely transform its interior. A three-story glass curtain wall on the exterior of the building on its east-side will provide lots of natural light and a dramatic view of the campus. Newsom said with this renovation, the library will become a major focal point for the campus, “No matter where you go, you will see this beautiful building.”
“Our vision for this library is more than the building,” Newsom said. “It’s also the programming and the learning opportunities that go along with dynamic space. We’ve taken everything we know about how students learn and engage now and have incorporated that into the design.”
There are still places for traditional learning, quiet areas for individuals to study. But, there will also be collaborative learning spaces where students can gather to work together on their projects. “Students now are active learners and they are digital,” Newsom said. “They need new kinds of resources to support variety of learning styles.” She added the new 24-hour study lab will be outfitted with computers and areas where students can come anytime, day or night to study and work together.
The Krannert Library renovation will create “a truly transformative space” for students, faculty and the surrounding community, Newsom said.
When asked why University of Indianapolis selected the Wilhelm and RATIO team for this work, Newsom said, “We’ve worked with Wilhelm before. But with this project, they just got it. Their proposal showed us how well they work together; they completely understood our vision and what we were to trying to achieve here.”
Wilhelm has completed the demolition and is a little more than a month into the renovation now, and Newsom is very happy with the progress. She said that renovating an old building can present challenges but she has confidence in the Wilhelm construction team and no doubt that the library will be ready in time for students returning in the fall.
Doug Curts, Wilhelm’s construction operations manager, credited the company’s partnership with the University of Indianapolis and RATIO Architects for getting the project up and running quickly and smoothly. Curts said, “The design process was very collaborative and all the team members were fully engaged so all important decisions were made very quickly.”
Curts added that Wilhelm had recently finished a project with RATIO at Marian University. He said, “This really translated well for the knowledge of both firms, allowing us to work together to cut down on the design time for a complicated project like this one.”
“We all put a lot of effort into identifying the issues ahead of time,” Curts said. “And, that put us in a great position. We were able to get started just two days after the University’s graduation ceremonies this year.”
For safety reasons, the university decided to close the library during construction. Newsom said it was important to make sure students have access to the resources they need during the summer session. She explained that the library staff identified the most important and commonly used resources to make them directly available to students from another building on campus. The rest of the collections are currently stored elsewhere on campus and are being made available by request.
According to Curts, the project is going very well, and the building will be open for the start of the school year. He said the only work remaining at that time will be the glass and metal curtain wall (the exterior of the building), which will be complete shortly thereafter.
Newsom said she sees something new every day albeit from a different vantage point on campus. Her office was originally located in the library and won’t be accessible until the project is finished. When we caught up to her, she was hanging out in a classroom in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center.
“They demolished my office,” she said with a laugh. “So, I’m moving around a lot.” She doesn’t mind, though, and was happy to sacrifice her office for the renovation. Watching the project take shape day-by-day has been exciting and “walking around in a hard hat is kind of fun, too.”
Roberts Hall – University of Indianapolis expecting a full house
This fall, when students start moving into their rooms on the fourth floor of Roberts Hall, they’ll find they have new neighbors upstairs. The fifth floor of the building, which has been vacant since it was built in 2012, will soon be home to 40 more students. Students on the fifth floor will enjoy amenities such as a fitness area, common areas in which to relax and hang out with other students, and shared kitchens.F.A. Wilhelm constructed the original building and was happy to send its team back to finish out the fifth floor, which will be complete in time for students returning this fall.
Newsom explained that the university originally didn’t need the space but planned for future growth. But now, with enrollments on the rise, this has changed, “It’s a great problem to have” she said with a laugh.
Roberts Hall is one of the newest residential facilities on campus. “Students love the space,” Newsom said, predicting a full fifth floor when the fall 2015 semester begins.