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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Architectural Review

A new building can be judged on many levels.  When looking at Marywood University's new Learning Commons, you have to examine it, piece by piece.

As a building in and of itself, it's not bad.  There's a lot of glass and steel.  Some brick.  A green roof.  It looks like a nice, modern office building.


The inside is rather cold.  It's long and narrow, with more than enough computer desks and seating to make everyone happy.  The office space is functional and energy efficient.  The new classroom space, at least on the main and upper floors is light and airy, with plenty of natural light.  There are windows everywhere.


The new Learning Commons, a fancy term for a library, does not place an emphasis on the printed and bound word.  There are no shelves and stacks.  No periodicals, nor encyclopedia in view.  You select what you want from a computer.  The automated book retrieval system might not be as popular as originally thought, according to a quote in the school newspaper, from the University's business affairs vice president.
automated book retrieval system
Here is where the wheels really come off, in my view.  The location.  First of all, the glass and steel are not a good pairing with the Liberal Arts Center, the building with the dome outside and the rotunda inside-- Marywood's signature building.  The Learning Commons is long and narrow, like a knife cutting the campus in two.  My mind is evolving here.  The slice doesn't appear to be as severe now that most of the heavy machinery is gone, and very nice plaza in front of the Learning Commons, and across from the Liberal Arts Building is nearly complete.  I'm also sure the severity of the slice will be lessened even more once the old library is torn down.

Marywood needed a new library.  The one is well intentioned.  I see what they were trying to do.

The library is the heart of the campus, and it should be at the center of the educational cluster.  The design just doesn't work for me.

Another aspect of the new building tomorrow.