Facility Focus (Libraries / Learning Commons)

Boston University School of Medicine: Alumni Medical Library

Boston Univeristy School of Medicine 


The Boston University (BU) School of Medicine’s Alumni Medical Library serves the university’s Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine and is located on floors 11-13 of the School of Medicine’s “L” instructional building. Finegold Alexander Architects reimagined the 13th floor—largely a stack level—as the new Learning Resource Center. The $3.5 million, fast-tracked project was completed while the building was occupied.

The existing spaces had not been substantially renovated since their late-1960s construction. Harsh fluorescent lighting, insufficient utilitarian study tables and carrels, and vast areas of book stacks occupied the 13,000-square-foot floor plate. The library’s users range from first-year medical students and Ph.D. students to residents and researchers, dentists, and oral surgeons. This diverse body reflects a variety of learning styles and curricula. Typically, students spend long stretches of time with dense material—this is focused, heads-down study. Working with the Dean’s Council, a quiet study floor with varied options was created.

The design for the 13th floor called for a complete gut/renovation to address a diverse set of needs while also opening the floor plan and improving circulation throughout the library. The program offers a variety of space types including acoustically isolated group study rooms, large carrels, sound-isolated booths, and comfortable pods and banquettes for lengthy study or naps. All the spaces are well integrated with technology, lighting, and comfortable furniture.

Display space for medical artifacts and rare books allows BU to showcase their history. The concrete walls surrounding the stair linking the main library floors were demolished and replaced with laminated glazing to enable the penetration of light through the space while providing acoustic isolation and visibility across the floor. Natural wood, soft flooring, abundant natural light, and touches of BU red create a calming yet vibrant space.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management July/August 2019 issue of Spaces4Learning.