by Adolfo Pesquera
San Marcos (Hays County) — JE Dunn Construction is assembling its team of subcontractors for the $5.9 million renovation of the Alkek Library Learning Commons at Texas State University.
Bids are due Friday. See VBX Project ID 2018-81FF. As reported here at VBX in June 2017, Texas State launched its search for a construction manager in advance of plans to repurpose portions of four levels of the 314,250-square-foot library. The project area totals 60,889 net square feet.
On August 16, the TSU System Board of Regents approved design documents submitted by BRW (Brown Reynolds Watford Architects Inc.) and Holzheimer Bolek+Meehan Architects, the design team.
While the construction budget is $5.9 million, total costs with furnishing, equipment and professional fees and contingencies is $8.3 million.
When complete, the Learning Commons will be resource that meets the student of today’s students. In addition to enhancements to spaces and services already offered, it will provide opportunities to utilize technological advancements that allow students to learn actively and support how they study, research, and interact.
As described in the project summary to the regents, “The Learning Commons, located on the first floor, is to be comprised of ‘Centers’.
These ‘Centers’ include digital media studios with cutting-edge technologies that allow students to create content, virtual reality interactive learning environments, and creative manufacturing spaces that foster creativity and problem solving through additive, subtractive, and smart manufacturing technologies.
“There is also a ‘Center’ with GIS/data visualization technology focus, that provides students with tools to explore computational relationships among the measurable properties of our planet.”
The third and fourth floors will be renovated to function as Research Commons and Education/Instruction Commons, respectively. The Research Commons include a combination of secured collections, maps and charts, periodicals, group study spaces, and an enclosed graduate commons space with two large study rooms, a large multi-function space, and a kitchenette breakroom.
The Education/Instruction Commons design includes new instruction spaces, presentation spaces, teaching spaces, kitchenette, and information technology testing and conference rooms.
Map of the Alkek Library at Texas State University.
The architects provide a detailed description as follows:
The first floor renovation and the new Centers are anticipated to attract more students to the first floor. To streamline the traffic, and for convenience, a new entry is being constructed.
The entry level also includes a Starbucks café space with dedicated exterior access and indoor/outdoor seating.
It will include comfortable seating and opportunities to display and showcase products being created on this floor. To provide space for the new entrance, and to create a more cohesive space for the entire renovation, several rooms for Information Technologies Support (ITS) are being relocated to the fourth floor.
First Floor–Digital Literacy:
The first-floor renovation, themed Digital Literacy, focuses on content creation through the use of various technology types.
The program has three main centers: X-Reality, Creative Manufacturing, and Dimensional Exploration. With the speed of technology advancements, the spaces need to adapt, be flexible, and allow for growth. To maximize flexibility, a majority of the space incorporates a low-profile raised access floor for power and data distribution.
Individual spaces and be easily reconfigured, but several spaces on this floor will be enclosed for either privacy, to contain noise, or to secure equipment. Glass storefront walls are incorporated to achieve the desired open floor plan and maintain sightlines throughout.
Information Technology Assistance Center (ITAC):
Currently the ITAC Service Desk is in another building on campus and would benefit from being relocated to the Alkek Library. The support desk has a prominent location on the first floor to serve patrons.
Dimensional Exploration Center (DEC):
The DEC is two spaces, a workspace and a presentation space. The presentation space is not a defined area, but is adjacent to the workspace and has moveable displays.
The workspace is an enclosed space with a glass demountable wall system. It has workstations with high-powered computers, and when the space is not being used for instruction, it is open to the students.
X-Reality Center (XRC):
This is an enclosed space with an open workspace with four workstations and equipment–FLEX screens, 360 cameras, and acoustic curtains. There is a control room that oversees the Centers activities and a storage room. This space is also open to the students when the room is not being used for instruction.
View of the third floor renovation concept. Courtesy: BRW Architects, and HBM Architects.
Creative Manufacturing Center (CMC):
The CMC offers a variety of manufacturing types: additive, subtractive, and smart manufacturing. It will be divided into two rooms, a “clean” space that supports work with 3D printers, and a “messy” space that supports work with laser cutters, CNC mills, sewing machines, etc.
Support spaces intermingle between the three Centers. Those spaces include a Print Shop that is enclosed and has a walk-up counter to assist students, a Graphic Design Studio and Digital Design Studio, which are both in the center of the open space.
The Graphic Design studio is a combination of computer workstations and drafting tables, and the Digital Design Studio has computer workstations. There is also an enclosed Audio Visual Editing area with ten workstations, and two Sound Studio rooms used for sound recording to support the content created in the YouStar studios.
The Alkek Library recently had the grand opening of a YouStar studio, located on this floor, and with the popularity and demand of the space, a second YouStar studio is added to the scope.
Currently, the space under the monumental stair that connects the first four floors of the library is a popular area for students to gather and study. The Library saw this as an opportunity to add an area for coding to the scope, the Coding Cave. This space requires some Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements to make the area directly under the stair compliant.
Currently the second floor is the main entrance to the library and located directly at the entrance is the main circulation desk which is a long, fixed counter and contains an area for collection and support offices. This function is going to be relocated to the third floor and in its space a Starbucks is going to be constructed. A small service desk is being purchased by the Library.
Third Floor–Research Commons:
The third-floor renovation, themed the Research Commons, contains all the collection, including the popular Juvenile collection, Textbook Curriculum Materials Center (TCMC) textbooks, current Periodicals, Graphic Novels, and CD/DVDs.
The entire floor is being renovated except for the Research Instruction and Outreach (RIO) department, and their reference collection.
Currently, the collection on this floor is on high shelving that blocks sightlines and natural light from reaching the center of the floor.
The collection that remains on this floor after the renovation is going to be on low, 66-inch shelving. The shelving height shift will dramatically change the nature of the space, creating a light filled plan that is more conducive to studying and learning.
The balance of the open space is for open seating that is zoned with the use of different furniture types to promote different styles of learning and studying.
The Graduate Commons is also located on the floor, and is going to be accessible only by card access. The graduate students have their own open study area, two large group study rooms, and a breakroom with a kitchenette. With the increase of open space in the library, the third floor now requires two more toilet fixtures.
Instead of renovating the existing gang restrooms, two single-use restrooms are going to be constructed adjacent to them, both being ADA accessible.
View of the fourth floor renovation concept. Courtesy: BRW Architects, and HBM Architects.
The fourth floor, themed Education, is a partial renovation. The Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC) tutoring lab is going to remain, along with the compact shelving. Level one currently has two model classrooms, and kitchenette, that are being relocated to the fourth with the renovation.
There are two Instruction Labs, and one Active Learning Lab. The Library Instruction labs have been designed to accommodate one seating style with dedicated workstations.
The Active Learning Lab has flexible furnishings that can support multiple styles of teaching. Playing off SLAC’s zig-zag wall, there are two small presentation rooms that have a higher level of sound attenuation due to their proximity to the noisy tutoring space, and an ADA print room. The Microfilm/Microfiche collection from level three, is now located on level four.
The fourth floor houses a third Information Technologies Support (ITS) conference room and an Instructional Technology Research and Development room. This provides a space for the staff to build and test technology.