A Twenty-First Century Library at St. Catharine College

Landscape Architecture

A Twenty-First Century Library at St. Catharine College


Strategically oriented to engage with the rest of campus, the library’s wings spread at a slight angle, like open arms extending an invitation to visitors. The open arms bring visitors into the cradle occupied by the lawn, patio, and the main entrance portico, complete with limestone columns and classical architectural elements. The gentle arc form carried throughout the building defines the floor plan layout of the circulation desk, a double-height lobby space, and the overlooking balcony. It can also be found in portico elements at major entry façades, a barrel-vaulted ceiling in the board room, and the wooden entry porticos framing access to the wings.

Abundant windows throughout the facility allow significant natural light into the building while framing views to the rest of campus with its gently-rolling hills and natural beauty. The stairwells, designed to be very transparent, are flanked by large glass windows on either side and at each level. Besides allowing daylight to penetrate deep into the library, the transparent windows put the circulation of patrons on display, front-and-center to showcase activity within the building.

computer room pano
In addition to the traditional book stacks, common reading areas and a circulation desk, the Emily Hundley Library boasts top-of-the-line technology and spaces seen in twenty-first century university libraries. Group study spaces and classrooms, tailored to support a variety of teaching approaches, come equipped with interactive SmartBoard™ technology. The latest multi-media technologies are provided in the conference rooms and the board room, allowing St. Catharine to host and view video conferences from all over the world.  And for the bookworms who like to study late, the computer lab and café offer extended-hours.

The landscape design was guided by the need to provide the library with a low maintenance yet lush landscape. Various outdoor spaces were created to accommodate campus activity, and encourage outdoor events. Bordered with pavers and a seat wall, the lawn is centered on the main entrance and can accommodate large group activities. Just outside the café is the patio, an ideal place for students to enjoy the weather, free time, or a snack. Additional tables and chairs are provided in two bosques of trees at the end of each wing.

One of the most beloved accents of this building is the cupola. Proudly sitting atop the library roof, it is a contemporary interpretation of an architectural feature seen on several buildings on campus and throughout the region. Its proportions were taken from those of the Mother House Cupola, a respectful and symbolic link to the Dominican heritage and ongoing legacy at St. Catharine College. When illuminated at night with color changing spot lights, the cupola is visible from all areas of campus and the surrounding region. This beacon creates a focal point at the building exterior and becomes a new visual touchstone for campus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *