Monday, 21 May 2012

Site under construction...

It was back to the Allendale Campus this week and the Zumberge Library. When the Zumberge was built in 1969, the University had just 3,000 students. Enrolment nowadays is nearing 25,000 and as the main Univesity Library, Zumberge has felt the full impact of this rapid expansion. Staff are equipped with a ready supply of earplugs for handing out to perturbed students during busy exam periods!

Fortunately help is at hand for the Zumberge and its 650,000+ volumes, with over 1,400 donors giving a total of over $70 million (around £45 million) to help build a brand new facility. The new Mary Idema Pew Learning & Information Commons (named after the wife of Steelcase Chairman, Robert Pew) is set to open next September. Taking inspiration partly from the Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, the aim of the building is to champion student engagement by providing spaces which can be taken over and generally messed around with by its users. The site for the new building sits directly opposite the existing facility, which curiously houses the University's Provost and other senior academic administration staff down in the basement (keeping them safe from the ever-present threat of impending tornadoes, presumably!). This gives them a decent view of the construction site which was topped out last month and is now just starting to take shape on the inside:

The Zumberge Library is to be converted to faculty offices next year
The large crane which can be seen across the pond
serves the new 5-storey Mary Idema Pew building

Earplugs are available for free at the main desk!

The building in between the Zumberge Library and the construction site for the new Information Commons is called the Kirkhof Center. This is the equivalent of a Students' Union building back home but definitely deserves a mention here as it has some fantastic spaces for learning... and yet more inspired artwork!:

A seminar room done American-style at the Kirkhof

Fibreglass paper planes in the main Kirkhof concourse

More to follow about the new building but for now I'm off to have a think about Thing 4 of the 23 Things. It's not been all work, happily and many of the folk down at GVSU were incredibly welcoming and hospitable to me over the weekend. It got up to a balmy 30 degrees on Sunday and I was lucky enough to make it out to the Great Lakes Kite Festival in Grand Haven:

Flying fish and other randomness on the beachy banks of Lake Michigan

1 comment:

  1. Hi Phil, Such an interesting blog, and fantastic pictures. We've recently come out the other side of a refurbishment - missed a trick by not having earplugs to hand out! Enjoy the rest of your trip.