Designing the library of the future Working with leadership teams from NC State University Libraries and the Institute for Emerging Issues in Raleigh, we played a number of roles in the introduction of the new James B. Hunt Jr. Library.
Designed by Snøhetta with Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, the building reimagines what a modern library can be. It’s a forward-thinking facility that encourages teamwork and scholarship through the use of innovative technology and collaborative workspaces.
Features of the Hunt Library include immersive video experience theaters, clusters of glass-walled collaboration suites, and an underground Automatic Book Delivery System (ABDS) we named the bookBot.
Our work began in early 2012 when we developed an informative case statement publication to aid in raising funds for the library’s technology systems and interior furnishings.
The theme of the piece was "Expect the Unexpected," and we developed an unusual multipanel foldout that when pulled from its slipcase transformed the lettering "NCSU" into the word "HUNT."
As it is expanded, the overview brochure echoes the Library's interweaving of space and information.
The Hunt Library does not have a traditional wayfinding signage system. It’s a fairly intuitive space, and repeat visitors know where they need to go. First-time guests can find their way around the library using a handy reference card that we developed. We based the idea on that of an airline evacuation card, ruthlessly editing down the content in order to provide the basics required to help people navigate.
The library’s study areas feature Herman Miller workstations, for which we were commissioned to develop a series of textile scrims.
For the design of the fabric, we took as our inspiration “The Color Wall,” a 1972 kinetic light sculpture by artist and designer Joe Cox.
The Color Wall is a landmark feature of the D.H. Hill Library, NC State flagship library facility, and we decided that using similar imagery would be a good way to suggest the linking of the two libraries' missions.
We created 62 unique patterned panels, ensuring that no two workspaces are the same. The vertical stripes also echo the Hunt Library's exterior fins.
The custom textile panels in place. Each dedicated area within the building (for faculty, graduate students, undergraduates) has its own colorway pattern.
The library’s dedication signage program comprises a system of inscriptions within both interior and exterior spaces.
The main donor wall features individuals’ names applied to an array of oversized glass panels.
University requirements stipulate the use of a consistent type size for donor inscriptions, so we developed a system where varying categories of donations are indicated by differing depths of the donors' names.
The design of the glass safety markers references the pattern of the building's exterior vertical fins.
Our team installing mockup dedication signage for evaluation.
We developed a customized version of the Vista Sans typeface that could be laser cut to various depths and affixed to the walls to integrate with the architecture.
We were honored to have a retrospective of our work hosted in the iPearl Immersion Theater, the Hunt Library's digital exhibition space.
As a final component of the program, we created a dedication book that served as a summation of the process of imagining and building the Hunt Library.
The piece comes with an embossed ribbed outer slipcase that is based on the building’s exterior structure. We helped develop and write the document, addressing the challenge of conveying the spirit and excitement of a technologically-advanced piece of architecture through the traditional medium of the printed page.
Designers Alexander Isley Stephanie Grusczynski
Writers Charles Samuels Alexander Isley
Collections The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography
Special Collections Research Center NC State University Libraries