After almost 100 years on campus Watson Library will soon undergo a renovation with goals to become more accessible, environmentally friendly and energy-efficient.
The project architects, PGAV Architects, met with students and faculty on Monday to get input on the renovation, after previously hearing from library leaders in several meetings.
University of Kansas alumnus Steve Cramer, the vice president of PGAV Architects, said they are at the midpoint of preliminary planning and aim to finish plans by Thanksgiving 2021.
Cramer said the last major renovation of the building was in 1980. The dean of libraries Kevin Smith said they have wanted to renovate the building for many years, as many people find the interior of Watson to be underwhelming in comparison to the grand architecture of the exterior.
Christy McWard, executive director of the office of communications and advancement at Watson, said she also looks forward to bringing the grandeur on the outside of the library to the inside.
“I want it to guide students very easily through the spaces so that they can find what they need in materials, they can find who they need in terms of library and support, and the spaces that are most conducive to their study,” McWard said.
Some of the the priorities for the renovation are more natural light, a more accessible entrance and increased energy efficiency. Cramer also said the renovation is driven by inspiration, discovery, collaboration and communication.
During the focus groups for faculty and students, some students brought up a need for more group spaces for writing groups, more visibility for library employees and more areas for quiet, individual study.
Samantha Demmerle, the assistant director for graduate writing and support at the writing center, said she would like there to be a designated space for graduate students that is reflective of the number of graduate students on campus.
A motivating factor for the Watson renovation is the upcoming 100th anniversary of the library in September 2024, Smith said.
“It's the recognition that Watson is iconic to so many Jayhawk alumni, that the anniversary was something that we could really build on,” Smith said.
The architects said they hope the renovation is well underway by then.
“There's a lot that has to happen certainly along the way, and our hope is that the vision may exceed what is even possible between now and 2024,” Cramer said.