It’s been a really exciting semester working with MSR Design on the feasibility study for Davidson’s “library of the future” project. As we wrap up our last meetings and await the final report from MSR, I’ve been reflecting on the importance of library programming (our services, resources, and everything we do) driving the design of the space– versus the space driving programming. It can be difficult to communicate the why of design if you do not have the programming in place to support the decisions that are being proposed. Yes, it can be challenging to get the programming up to full speed when there are space constraints that keep you from maximizing what it is you are trying to do, but it is critical to not “wait on the space” to drive the programming. Perhaps that means implementing a mini-version of what that program could “grow up to be”– as in the case of our Research & Design Studio support center or our new capsule collection initiative (small displays of curated books connected to curricular and co-curricular activities on campus). Other examples of programming driving space might be more inclusive tutoring spaces…or a reimagined welcome desk…or flexible space to support our peer-consulting program…or gathering spaces designed to support a wider range of outreach events…or spaces dedicated to showcasing student scholarship or digital resources in more engaging ways. For us, we know that quiet space is a core service of the library that students greatly value, and so a larger quiet reading room is definitely in the cards for our library of the future, as is improved back-of-house spaces for processing of library materials. These are just a few of the examples taken from the work that has been done to date from our own project. I look forward to sharing a more detailed summary of the feasibility study — and the exciting ideas proposed based on our programming needs– in the months to come.
Library Feasibility Study
Last week, I wrote about the concept of an architectural feasibility study and updated you on the “library of the future” project. I also introduced MSR Design, the award-winning Minneapolis based firm that was selected to lead the feasibility study for our project. Many in the Davidson College community have already met the MSR team through focus group work that has taken place over the last several weeks, but I thought it’d be helpful to provide a little more detail here for those who are interested.
Established in 1981, the firm has received 210 national and regional honors and awards for its design work, including 30 awards for library projects and 30 awards for the design of higher education facilities. The selection committee was impressed by the firm’s strong portfolio of projects, including over 253 library projects and 75 higher education projects including Haverford’s Visual, Culture, Arts, and Media (VCAM) Building and Carleton College’s Weitz Center for Creativity. One of the things that we noted during our interview with the team is that they really don’t have “one look” (except all of their spaces are beautiful!)– each project speaks to the needs of the community it has been designed to support, as demonstrated in this image below:
In addition to creating “transformative and human-centric, award-winning architecture and interior design” MSR Design is also the first Minnesota architecture firm to attain an International Living Future Institute “Just 2.0” label. This label provides a platform for socially just and equitable organizations to share their operations, such as transparency around employee well-being, pay equity, and financial and community investments. Most recently, the 62% women-owned firm was certified by the Women’s Business Development Center-Midwest (WBDC-Midwest), a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE).
MSR Design has created spaces in 34 states (+DC!), designing dozens of high-performing projects that put sustainability at the forefront. In addition to achieving Living Building Challenge Petal certification for their own studio space (also AWARD WINNING), they have designed over 22 LEED certified project (including two LEED Platinum certified projects).
The firm has also received an AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Award for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s new Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center. They’ve also developed guidelines around transparency, sustainability, and health—including a sustainability metrics template and materials action packet, both which can be downloaded from the firm’s Generative Impacts web page.
Meet the MSR Design Project Team (Library of the Future Feasibility Study)
Davidson College colleagues might recognize these friendly faces from the focus group work that has been happening across campus (and via Zoom) over the last several months. They are such a fantastic team to work with and I couldn’t be happier with the selection committee’s decision to bring them on board for the feasibility study project.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working closely with the design team to complete the library of the future feasibility study. Stay tuned for updates as we visualize a brighter future for the Davidson College Library!