Opening of new library at Norfolk State University feted

John Portman & Associates, Inc. (PORTMAN) is pleased to announce the opening of the new Lyman Beecher Brooks Library at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. The occasion was marked with a dedication ceremony and reception as part of week-long inauguration and investiture festivities for President Dr. Tony Atwater, the University’s 5th President. PORTMAN created the design for the new library.

The 134,000-square-foot library features a unique sinuous form that responds to the constraints of the site. The building is anchored by a dramatic 3-story, glass enclosed rotunda soaring over 90 feet in height and bringing natural light into the library’s interior, a lively, activated and inviting space that will accommodate the University’s growing student population.

Conceived as a distinctive signature building for Norfolk State, the new library boasts state-of-the-art facilities including a technology-rich Information Commons, Computer Resource Lab, e-Learning Center, and Internet Café. In addition to traditional book stacks and reading spaces, the building contains 30 study rooms, a graduate student research room and a large meeting/instruction room that will accommodate up to 50 people and the latest in audio-visual capabilities. The new campus centerpiece further enriches the NSU experience, housing the Harrison B. Wilson Archives, which specializes in collecting and preserving original historical records pertaining to the experiences of African-Americans in Virginia; and the African Art Gallery with a collection of over 600 museum-quality art pieces from many different cultures in West Africa. The building is expected to receive Silver level LEED certification, as sustainability practices have been of utmost importance throughout the design and construction process.

The new library is an important step in fulfilling the campus master plan, also conceived by John Portman & Associates. Located at the geographic center of the campus, the positioning of the new library creates a new west “academic” quadrangle and a new east “student life” quadrangle. Plazas at both library entrances along the primary East-West pedestrian thoroughfare of the campus provide gathering spaces and outdoor study areas with access to the campus’ wireless data network. Demolition of the former library building has already begun, to be followed by the completion of the new campus quadrangles.

The project team included local architect of record Moseley Architects, library experts Jay Lucker and Tappe Associates, and technology consultants, Waveguide.