Rush Rhees Library at University of Rochester

  • area / size 10,000 sqft
  • Completed 2016
  • CJS Architects designed the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester located in Rochester, New York.

    The Square serves the University as the geographical and functional heart of the campus. The space replicates a town square, as both gateway and destination, bringing together students and faculty to explore, research, socialize, and showcase achievements.

    The University tasked the design team with a renovation that would push the main campus library into the 21st century through a state-of-the-art learning space. Before the renovation, the area programmatically and visually lacked identity. The goal was to respectfully insert a modern program into the context of the adjacent, Greek-revival entry lobby. The modernized Square plays off the color palette and formal symmetry of this lobby. Wood built-ins create diverse and functional seating options, while also creating a noble warmth to the otherwise technology-driven space.

    The hierarchal conception of library is deliberately challenged as the barrier between librarian and library-user is broken down, creating a shared space with more natural and dynamic interactions. For instance, the outmoded large reference desk is replaced with multiple service points, and the central “Q & I” station intentionally keeps librarians on their feet, proactive, and accessible. Touch-down spaces encourage impromptu or scheduled research consultations. A range of seating, from large group tables, soft seating, to semi-private booths allow the user to customize their experience by working in collaboration or privately.

    Furnishings are chosen to allow for flexible ‘pop-up’ services and workshop space intended to change in response to student interest and academic year needs. A “Tech Sandbar” encourages students to discover new and cutting-edge technologies they may apply to their coursework.

    Further, as part of the modernization, the project included the University’s first all-gender restroom. This move was to reinforce the goal of making the Square a wholly inclusive, welcoming environment.

    Design: CJS Architects
    General Contractor: LeChase Construction
    PhotographerDon Cochran