Charles Library at Temple University

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Temple University’s 220,000 square-foot Charles Library defines a social and academic heart for a large and diverse student body. Within a vibrant urban context, the project reinterprets the traditional research library as a repository for books, creating instead a dynamic learning environment. The building’s base is clad in vertical sections of split-faced granite, referencing surrounding campus materials.

Sweeping wood arched entrances cut into the stone and expanses of glass create maximum transparency at three major entrances while welcoming visitors The atrium offers views to every corner of the building, serving as a wayfinding anchor. A dramatic oculus carved into the wood-clad dome allows light to pour into the lobby.

At the main stair’s base, a service desk provides the first interface between staff and students, facilitating access to the library collection that is stored primarily in a high density automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) termed the ‘BookBot.’ Storing 1.5 million volumes, the system allows holdings previously housed off-site to be kept within.

This solution reduces the space required for book stacks -- freeing space for people. The library’s all-mobile technology strategy is evident with laptops and charging banks on every floor. Roof gardens provide an unexpected biophilic moment within the urban campus. By enhancing connectivity to academic resources and fostering learning through social interaction, the design inspires students to engage more directly with the library’s activity. And, as a world-class facility, the project marks a transformative moment for Temple University, the City, and for academic libraries around the world.

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