Davidson to Undergo Renovation, Increase Sustainability and Study Space

Photo by John Clow

Faisal Ajam

Photo by John Clow

The Davidson Library,  University of California Santa Barbara’s main library, is about to get an extreme makeover. Starting in the spring of 2013 a massive undertaking will begin which will add 60,000 square feet to the library and renovate 92,000 square feet of already existing floor space. Four main foci of the project, according to the online report, are the addition of a three-story building adjacent to the side of the Library closest to Ellison Hall, the renovation of the old two story Library into an Arts Library, a new Paseo to connect the Library and campus and an overhaul of the eight story tower.

“The new image, along with a reorganized entry sequence, soaring Paseo lobby, and new enhanced internal circulation, will create a much improved library while adding even greater vitality to the already vibrant Library Mall,” said Marc Fisher, the senior associate vice chancellor for administrative services. The additions and renovations have a budget of 71.4 million dollars—none of which is coming from the students’ pockets but rather from bond sales and private fundraising. The company being contracted to level-up our library is C.W. Driver.

Davidson Library hasn’t undergone renovation in 35 years. Since then, enrollment has spiked and significant leaps have been made in technology. The way we use information has been redefined; therefore, UCSB has also deemed it fit that the technology in the library is upgraded. More power outlets will be added, wireless access will be expanded and a new state-of-the-art facility for the Department of Special Collections will open. The facility will be used for the preservation and restoral of valuable primary and secondary sources. The demand by students for quiet study space is not lost on the university; 20 percent more study space will be available to students post-construction. Several group study and collaboration areas (for students and faculty) will also be added in.

“A library is far more than a repository of books. It is a meeting place or commons for the exchange of inquiry, were curiosity can be satisfied using various existing and emerging technologies,” university librarian Denise Stephens said.

The very green-minded community of UCSB need not have any concerns. The building will aim for a gold LEED rating. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating, according to the website is one which uses the measurements of sustainability, water efficiency, energy usage, materials used and the indoor quality of the building to provide a grade. The grades a building can achieve are Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. According to the press release, UCSB is the university with the highest number of LEED certified buildings in the country. Also, the trees stand in the way of the expansion will be either relocated or turned into furniture. In addition, 42 trees will be planted. The renovations aim to take advantage of the beautiful climate here on the Pacific coast. Four naturally-lit reading galleries will be opened and more seating will be implemented outdoors. The Arts Library’s collection will be moved into the main building once the construction is complete and given a dedicated viewing space.

In the short term, the two-story building is going to be closed off starting in 2014 and will not be  reopening until the project is over. All library materials will still be available to the students, but some will be moved off-site. If anyone requires these resources, they can consult the catalogue and make a request for delivery. Some floors of the tower will also be closed off, but materials will still be available via library staff. Now as with any construction, noise will be a factor. The main advantage of studying in a library is the ambiance and low noise levels; therefore the Library will strive to conduct the loudest portions of the project during the summer, breaks, and nights. In fact, construction in the four-story and eight-story buildings will be finished exclusively in the night time. There will also be announcements on the library website regarding the noise levels. Lastly, in order to compensate for lost space tables and computers will be rearranged and moved into the main building. Construction is expected to end September 2015.

“As we re-imagine the UCSB Library to stand at the intellectual and cultural crossroads of this university, we also hope to stand among the best research university libraries in the Country,” said Stephens.