Springfield, Massachusetts


Responding to the linear nature of the 764ft-long former storehouse, the design team created a series of nodes or “hubs” of activity throughout the building, each geared towards one aspect of student life. A heavily trafficked existing pass-through at the east end of the Student Learning Commons links north and south sides of campus, has been transformed into the primary entrance. The campus library, accessed via an open stair at this entry, occupies the second and third floors of the building’s east end, strategically located to take advantage of this pedestrian corridor and position it proximate to student services.

Like many 21st-century libraries, the new Learning Commons at STCC offers more than just print material to students. A 2013 space-needs assessment determined that there was a need for 80% more study spaces that currently available on campus. The new library program, carefully developed with input from library staff, key stakeholders, and students, consolidates many important functions to provide a one-stop location where students can get the academic support they need. With a focus on access to technology, the library provides IT support, computers, and technology rentals in a centralized location. Staff desks dispersed throughout the 25,000-square-foot, two-story space ensure that students have access to research assistance, and tutoring rooms or touch-down stations allow for formal or informal help with coursework. A range of space types — from quiet study carrels to more lively reading room and flexible furnishings — cater to the diverse needs and working styles for students ranging from recent high school graduates to senior citizens.

In the renovated space, students encounter both original and new elements of the building, allowing them to combine academic study with experiential and technical learning. The queen-post trusswork with steel beams is exposed in the library’s double-height reading room, which re-captures former attic space. Red-oak shutters, salvaged from the storehouse’s original windows, were refurbished and repurposed to create window seats in the reading room. The former attic is transformed into stack space and group study rooms, with new skylights and borrowed light from the library below.

The Student Learning Commons project received numerous planning, design, and preservation awards, including an AIA New England Citation Award, a SCUP Excellence in Planning Honor Award, a SCUP Excellence in Architecture Honorable Mention, a Robert H. Kuehn, Jr. Award from Preservation Massachusetts, and a Building Design + Construction Reconstruction Award.

Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
Project Size: 100,100 sf

Sustainability: The design targeted LEED Silver standards. The project design netted a 30% water-use reduction with low-flow fixtures throughout the building and drought-tolerant plants; no potable water is used to irrigate the landscaping. All roof rainwater run-off is channeled via granite runnels into rain gardens along the building’s perimeter. The rainwater is collected and filtered naturally by plantings, percolates into the soil, and recharges the groundwater. More than 90% of construction and demolition debris was reused, recycled, or salvaged, and more than 99% of the new wood-based materials installed are FSC certified. LED lighting combined with an improved exterior envelope, optimized daylighting, and high-efficiency building systems resulted in an energy-use reduction of 28%.

Project Team: Philip Chen AIA, Robert Carroll AIA, Jacqueline Mossman AIA, Ric Panciera AIA, Rita Terjeki AIA, George Faber, Ian Ford (ABA); Altieri (MEP); RSE (Structural); Nitsch Engineering (Civil); The Green Engineer (Sustainability); Jensen Hughes (Code); Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting (Lighting); IBI (Landscape); Public Archaeology Laboratory (Archaeology); Jaffe Holden (Acoustics); Structures North (Wood Framing); Preservation Technology Associates (Masonry); BVH (AV); Chuck Choi (Photography)