Learning Commons

Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania

More than a replacement for Marywood University's library, the Learning Commons will house and offer more functions than the typical university library and will become the central hub of every student's academic day on campus. Occupying the most prominent site on campus, the building is the functional, physical and conceptual heart of the academic community. Flanking the edge of the major pedestrian connection between the academic and the social halves of Marywood's campus, the two-sided building has 'front doors' on two quads that reinforce an axis that begins at the Memorial Arch, the symbolic entrance to the campus. This axis will connect the arch with a new memorial garden, pass through the major atrium space within the Learning Commons and extend out into the Arts Quad on its east side.

Within the building, the vehicle by which the open, lightfilled and expressive architecture is enabled, an Automated Library System (ALS), will be celebrated and made visible as it is called to action and retrieves collection items from its bins. Not simply following a national trend of incorporating a hidden back-of-house ALS into the facility's program to save space and store more volumes, Marywood has taken a leap forward and will house 95% of their collection in the ALS and it will be the first University in the United States to do so.

The ALS, allows the building funds to be maximized for for "people space" rather than for housing books. Capitalizing on this people-centric approach, the building is designed to express the open, collaborative and collegial nature of a university education while maintaining the services and functions of a university library. The new Learning Commons is planned with a stratified scheme of noisy to quiet space and has a rich mix of varied learning spaces-- open or closed, individual or group, collaborative or private.
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