snøhetta: james b. hunt library, north carolina
snøhetta: james b. hunt library, north carolina
apr 04, 2013

snøhetta: james b. hunt library, north carolina

‘james b. hunt jr. library at north carolina state university’ by snøhetta, raleigh, north carolina, usaimage © mark herbothall images courtesy of snøhetta




the snohetta-designed ‘james b.hunt jr.’ library has officially been dedicated and marks a new benchmark for technologically advanced learning spaces. while the library at north carolina state university serves as the intellectual and social core of the centennial campus, a smart grid research center at the school, the space is slated to eliminate barriers of access to both sophisticated technologies and continue academic ideas well beyond the classroom. the building contains advances in library interaction, namely a five storey automated book retrieval system called the ‘bookbot’ while still managing to create an architecture sensitive to sustainable practices and dedicated to fostering collaborative, scholarly commons.  

snøhetta: james b. hunt library, north carolina  entrance space shows an engagement with selective color image © mark herboth




the library re-imagines both actual and intangible library dynamics; gone is the isolationist intellectual space in favor of an environment designed for incidental meetings and happenstance collaboration. aluminum louvers and fritted glass belie vibrant furnishings that create various models of study areas. the so-called ‘learning commons’ are awash in natural light and afford views of nearby lake raleigh and soon-to-be master-planned landscape. rain gardens and green roofs are the exterior counterpart to with the space saving technology of the interior bookbot. this automated book retrieval network operates within a cartesian system of lasers that physically moves over 18,000 shelf-like bins upon request. aside from saving time, the storage facility contains an impressive two million items in a climate controlled environment and requires 1/9th of the space of conventional shelving. the high-density technology and considered architectural approach is appropriate for an institution looking to democratize intellectual capital and more fully engage in ever-changing critical dialogue.  

snøhetta: james b. hunt library, north carolina  a view into the ‘bookbot’image © mark herboth





project info:


design architect: snøhettaexecutive architect: pearce brinkley cease + leeprogramming: degwcost: davis langdonleed administration: pearce brinkley cease + leestructural engineer: stewart engineeringstructural consultant: arupcivil: cole jenest stonepme & fp: affiliated engineers inclandscape: snohetta, susan hatchell landscape architecture pllca/v it/ acoustics: the sextant group inclighting: pivotalautomated book delivery system: dematicfurniture: ncsu libraries, pearce brinkley cease + lee with another inside jobconstruction manager: skanska

  • Nice implementation of technology to keep the usability of libraries up front. I fervently believe that the library is highly relevant even in these days of Google as it gives a place for people to meet in a different setting than coffee at a Starbucks.
    In this case there is a balance between the infrastructure of finding a book (which can be automated to some extent) and the act of gathering knowledge either through the book or with others in the common spaces.


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