The existing library at Christopher Newport University (CNU) was a compilation of four different decades of construction: the original 1966 one-story library, an addition in 1978, a second addition in 1993, and a major addition and renovation in 2008. This project needed to remove portions of the building, renovate 15,612 square-feet of the earliest building, and add 66,753 square-feet of new construction, all within state guidelines and funding.

Goals for the project included:

  • Increased seating capacity, from 200 to over 1,000;
  • Transform one of the oldest buildings on campus because the late 20th century modern aesthetic was out of character with both the 2008 addition and the neoclassical character of the campus;
  • Convert the Library from a repository for books, to a 24/7 student-focused study center that would be the center of student academic life.

The most dramatic addition was a new two-story Reading Room. Locating it on the second floor allowed this central feature to be flooded with natural light from the library’s cupola and skylights concealed within roof wells. This iconic, three-bay room surrounded by balconies flows out to three outdoor reading terraces, allowing students to sit indoors or outside while maintaining library security. The project also included an updated café, expanded media center, lecture hall, reading/study rooms, and state of the art archival storage and archives library.

The Reading Room and the newly renovated spaces that surround it have become an immediate success with students who occupy the building at all hours of the day and night, fulfilling the hopes of CNU’s library staff and administration.

Architect & Interior Designer: Glavé & Holmes Architecture

Photographer: Virginia Hamrick Photography