The John Cotton Dana Library is the physical and academic center of the Rutgers University – Newark campus. One of the guiding principles for the project was to promote easy access for faculty and students from the Student Center directly across the Norman Samuels Plaza. This first phase of the Library renewal creates a more welcoming, user-friendly facility by including an addition to the Library featuring a centralized stair and elevator tower, which allows for better access at each floor level. The addition infills between portions of the existing building to create light-filled spaces with a dynamic stair volume that extends out into the western quad.
A new elevator, stair, and library entry clad in Millennium Forms cupped metal tiles both inside and out creates a clear, unified, and comfortable way to access all building levels. The metal tiles were specified by Steinberg Hart, design architect for the project, for their visual impact, durability, and bold coloration in partnership with Clarke Caton Hintz, who served as the architect-of-record for the project. The burgundy mill LIC (light interference color) tiles bring in the Rutgers red branding and provide a wayfinding cue for students. The cupped profile of the tiles allows for beautiful shadow-play as the changing angle of the sun washes across the facade throughout the day. A visual counterpoint to the existing Library’s precast concrete exterior, the exterior materials and forms serve as an accent on campus and within the building. While the curving curtainwall offers relief to the rectangular shapes of the existing building, the curve also echoes the elliptical wall in the newly renovated third floor of the Library.
Access into the Library from the tile-clad stair and elevator creates active, dynamic hubs at each level of the Library that connects users to seating areas and collections throughout the building. Small gathering spaces occur at the stair and elevator landings, encouraging impromptu meetings. The interior walls of the stair feature custom wallcovering with color-blocking that mimics the patterning of the metal tiles that enclose the exterior of the form. Overlooking the green plaza between the Dana Library and the Robeson Campus Center, the new addition provides expansive views to the outside and allows passersby to observe the life happening within the building.
Upon entering the third floor, the P3 Collaboratory for Pedagogy, Professional Development, and Publicly-Engaged Scholarship at Rutgers University-Newark is a dedicated space that brings together professors, Ph.D. candidates and graduate teaching assistants through the sharing of best practices. It provides mentoring to the next generation of scholars and encourages participation in publicly engaged scholarship. The desire for collaborative gathering and study spaces results in an open floor plan along the perimeter of the space, providing maximizing access to natural daylight. Flexible, easily configurable furniture allows groups to come together at the spur of the moment. Taking cues from the existing space with its concrete structural elements, the industrial ethos is retained by leaving infrastructure exposed, absorption added to the ceilings and walls ensures a suitable acoustic environment.
In contrast to the open space, program elements requiring enclosure such as office suites, meeting and consultation rooms for the P3 Collaboratory, Graduate School, and International Programming are located within a large ellipse. The elliptical wall, which defines the open floor plan from the partitioned spaces, is distinguished by its interactivity and connectivity. Integrated desking, benching, and seating allow users to directly interact with the wall and each other, while openings in the wall allow for visual porosity. The remaining floors of the Library will undergo a transformation in the next phase of renovation work, as the Dana Library responds to the 21st-century users’ needs and expectations.