About the Armacost Library

The academic library has fulfilled an important role on college and university campuses since its inception. Early collegiate libraries were modeled on their monastic predecessors with small chapel-like spaces for quiet study and contemplation often surrounding a courtyard.

Books were chained in place to prevent loss. With the evolution of teaching methodologies and technologies, the 21st Century library has become a place of group learning and social interaction as well as one for individual study and access to books and global information via technology.

We designed this library as a first and critical step in the implementation of the new campus master plan. This site was thoughtfully chosen to place the library in the physical center of students' lives. It is sited at a pedestrian crossroads overlooking a pond, at the physical meeting place of the academic and residential precincts of Eckerd. It was also chosen for its views of the water that is at the heart of and surrounds this campus.

The exterior design recognizes the modern roots and unique style of Eckerd, while addressing current needs and standards. The first floor elevation is more than 13 feet above sea level to meet FEMA standards; most of the existing buildings are at eight feet. Colonnaded walkways offer protection from intense sun and rain. Projections over the colonnades recall the overhangs on the existing buildings in form yet are made of different materials. They shade the windows to minimize solar heat gain. Light-colored stucco and coquina stone blend with the existing campus materials. While many of Eckerd's buildings have multiple entrances, utilizing the exterior walkways as corridors, the library has a single entry marked by a tower. A single entrance is desirable due to the security concerns for the materials and needs for environmental control. The tower is a beacon on the campus, drawing the Eckerd community to the building.The large north facing reading room curtain wall (window system) is designed to withstand class 4, hurricane wind loads of 145 mph.

The interior is based upon a five-foot planning module. Library shelving is on a five-foot grid with two stack modules that are approximately 10 feet or equal to one office or group study room. (This rhythm also recalls the 10-foot design module of many existing buildings at Eckerd.) The double height reading room faces north to take advantage of the lagoon views and indirect natural light preferable for this use. The open two-story space serves as a place of orientation for library users. An open, wood, stainless steel and carpeted stair connects the first and second floors. A balcony overlooks the main reading room offering more seating and views of the lagoon. To the south of the stair is a dramatic wood-paneled wall, perforated with openings that align with the stack aisles. The shelving ranges run in the north-south direction allowing views through the building. The stacks are in the center of the building while group study rooms surround it on the west and south edges.

The interior finishes complement the exterior and Eckerd's modern roots.We chose maple for the paneling and trim for its light, modern feel. The paint color in the colonnades wraps into the entry vestibule and main reading room to further integrate the interior and exterior. The remaining interior paint colors, finishes and fabrics are intended to create a lively, interesting environment for undergraduate study and collaboration. The reading tables and study carrels are custom designed to provide durable, inspiring places of study. Most are wired for ease of access to power and data. Group study rooms are furnished either with tablet-arm lounge seating or tables and chairs to create a variety of learning and collaborative environments. Open lounges offer another type of study space.

The Friends of the Library Room offers a more traditional reading room environment for individual study and group events with a combination of lounge and table seating for 22. Special Collections is housed in locking-glass fronted bookshelves. The Billy O. Wireman Conference Room has a meeting table that seats 28, teleconference capability and lounge seating.

This library is the physical expression of an elegant program statement developed by Eckerd College's library planning committee. The committee's work spanned two administrations and included Library Directors Edward I. Stevens and David Henderson, Information Technology Services Director David Pawlowski, Presidents Peter H. Armacost and Donald R. Eastman, and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Lloyd W. Chapin.The College is grateful to Miles C. Collier, Chairman of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees, who enhanced our vision of a technologically sophisticated library; and to George Off, Chairman of the Trustees' Buildings and Grounds Committee, and the Committee members, whose support raised our ambition and aspirations.