Clemons Library second floor due to open Oct. 4

The Cavalier Daily tours construction before opening

 The second floor of Clemons Library is due to open for student use on Oct. 4, after being closed due to renovations. Construction has been almost non-stop since the floor closed in May 2016. 

Construction crews gave The Cavalier Daily a look inside the floor before it officially opens for student use.

The main part of the space is a large room reminiscent of the main floor of Clemons but with a higher ceiling and lighter atmosphere. Where there used to be bookshelves are glass rooms slated to be offices for student advising resources during the day, and in later hours students can reserve them for personal use. The center of the room will have carrels instead of the long tables there before the floor closed. 

The space is designed around student study like the rest of the library, said Kathryn Densberger, director of the Dathel and John Georges Student Center.

“All of these glass rooms during the day will be reserved for offices like the career center and study abroad to do consultation,” Densberger said. “But after business hours, students will be able to reserve them.”

The glass advising offices are all equipped with sliding glass barn doors to match the glass walls and a glass dry-erase board and TV mount. The designers noted that users preferred the glass boards and enjoyed the ability to write on the walls, so they maximized the writeable surface in the space.

“These are what we’re doing pretty much everywhere now. With the regular dry erase boards you get shadowing on it,” said Mark Stanis, the University’s director of project services. “Glass is completely impervious so you never have to worry about cleaning it off, even if someone accidentally uses permanent marker you can still get it off glass whereas sometime you can’t with the others.”

In the main room, there will be new booths much like those lining the perimeter of the fourth floor of Clemons and carrels filling the middle of the room. Everything will be hardwired with power outlets — a popular amenity among students. 

The interior of the building belies the amount of changes that have been made, as many of the renovations are hidden from view, Densberger said.

“When you’re standing here and looking at it, it may not seem like there was a whole lot that went into the project, but a lot of the work you don’t see,” Densberger said. “It’s all above the ceiling. We have a brand new sprinkler system that they didn’t have before and had to rework all the duct work that was in here. So a lot of the work that we do is something that the students don’t even see.”

To allow for all-new and more modern room designs, construction teams have to install sprinkler systems like in other new buildings, a project that led to complications in Clemons. 

The new sprinkler system — though it required new piping and outside work — gave the designers more freedom and creativity with the room space and allowed the installation of large glass garage doors in the conference rooms opposite of the main room. 

“If this were not a sprinkled area, you would not be able to have a big glass door like this, it would have to be fire-rated wall,” Stanis said. “Doing that makes it safer, but also allows us to open it up more.”

The floor will also feature a vending area similar to the main floor, but in its own dedicated space. 

The design of the space has a very modern aesthetic — a trend which can be seen in common design characteristics among the newer buildings around Grounds such as 1515 University Avenue, Rice Hall and the Alderman Road residences. 

Both Clemons and 1515 were designed by University alumnus Robert Nalls. The new lighting, exposed ductwork, concrete floors and new fully tiled bathrooms are designs meant to last, Stanis said. 

“I think we’ve seen more of the same color palette in newer buildings,” Stanis said. “When you go into the restrooms, the restroom finishes are becoming more the newer standard — the subway tile, the grey tones. It’s trying to come up with finishes and a style that will last a long time.”

Senior Academic Facility Planner Richard Minturn said all of the work is meant to create a better environment for student study and advising, a initiative called Total Advising. The new facility will be the program’s home as well as a space for students to study and collaborate. 

“The advising experience was a problem for students in a survey several years ago,” Minturn said. “It was plenty of services, but all in different places and not well integrated and connected.” 

“The quick idea on this is to get it to a single delivery point,” Minturn added. Representatives from different advising services will be there to help students find resources they need. 

The new facility is one part of a new advising system that will supplement the existing advising services, and will collaborate with a new online system still under development, Densberger said. 

“There will be a website where you will be able to find resources in I think more the way that students need to be able to find them,” Densberger said. “A lot of it will link up to sites that already exist, but there will be a hub.” 

The time the renovations have taken to complete the project may appear excessive, but for the amount of work done, Stanis said, it is normal. The floor was closed in May 2016 after final exams and has remained under constant construction since, despite moving schedules to accommodate student activities.

“The work hours — because of exam times — we have to make sure there’s no noise,” Stanis said. “We kind of shift our work schedules to work with and around what else is happening in the building.”

The next major project is tentatively slated to be the renovation of Alderman Library, a project which will take several years.

“In terms of the library … We’re hoping to be able to do some work on the first floor after this is done, and Alderman Library will be a really, really major project,” Minturn said. “The state has given initial approval of that.”

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