James B Hunt Library to break ground Friday

James B Hunt Library to break ground Friday

Automated Retrieval

October, 20, 2009, by Rusty

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The James B. Hunt Jr. Library will be a beautiful and inspiring “signature” building that embodies the essence of Centennial Campus as a community built around knowledge.

Groundbreaking for the new James B Hunt Jr. Library will take place this Friday, October 23rd. This building has been a long time coming, and the images that have been released of the new design do not disappoint.

Designed by the 2009 Mies van der Rohe Award winning firm, Snøhetta in conjunction with Raleigh's own PBC+L, the new building boasts the latest technology in archival print collection storage. The Automated Retrieval System will hold some two million volumes, and can store all this in one-ninth the space of equivalent traditional book stacks.

The Vision Statement released by the University gives an arm's length list of aspirations for the new building. Four key goals, from the library's website:

  • Create an iconic center for a research-oriented campus and economy
  • Significantly reduce the study seating gap on NC State's campus
  • Act as a 'technology incubator' for the campus
  • Create a new home for Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State

It's clear that this new building is a marked departure from the Office Park-itecture of much of Centennial Campus, and a very welcome departure at that. The structure will frame impressive views of Lake Raleigh on one side, and the Raleigh skyline on the other.

The improvement in study seating is long overdue, and is probably the most important aspect of the new building, at least to the Students of NC State. What remains to be seen, however, is whether this new building will successfully draw students from Main Campus over to centennial to utilize its resources. The majority of material in the library will be focused on Textiles and Engineering, but Larry Nielsen, co-chair of the building committee, wants to drive home the point that this building is "Not just a campus for engineers. It's a campus for the entire University."

Recent discussions on the possibility of Centennial Campus housing could be a big step in engaging more of the student body, and the new library certainly sets a high bar for the design of future buildings on centennial campus.

The James B. Hunt Jr. Library has been in the works since July 2007. This new centerpiece for centennial campus should be completed by the summer of 2012. Schematic design began in fall of last year, with an end-user charette taking place in January . We're looking forward knowing more about the building in the coming months... but one thing is for certain.

It's no Dust Buster.

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Architecture, Other posts by Rusty.


NC StateJames B. Hunt LibraryJim Hunt LibraryHunt Library


  • Rex
    10/20 12:04 PM

    When Obama came to Broughton this last summer, Governor Hunt definitely got the most applause before the President took the stage. And this library sounds like an improvement on NC State’s commitment to their students and the work they do.

  • smitty
    10/20 01:00 PM

    Is it customary outside of NC to name buildings after people who are still alive?  I can’t think of any.

  • Joshua
    10/20 01:30 PM

    so excited about this. welcome Snøhetta!

  • Shibby
    10/20 01:35 PM

    No bricks?  Really, this will be the center piece for Centennial Campus.  Can’t want to see it.

  • chris
    10/20 01:45 PM

    Smitty—no it is not customary, but it can happen.  In New Jersey, a sports arena in the Meadowlands was named after Brendan Byrne, then the governor of NJ (and also a partner in a prospective ownership group).  Some time later (and after Mr. Byrne was long out of office—but still alive!) the naming rights to the arena were sold—it was once Continental Airlines Arena and is now Izod Arena.  So at least one major building has been both named and un-named for a living individual!

    Students will definitely use it, especially during the day, as more and more of the engineering departments transition to Centennial.  Personally, I would rather browse the bookshelves myself than use an automated retrieval system, but in the age of Amazon and Google Books, I can see how current technology can help make this system more useful. 

    Overall, I am glad to see such a striking building come to Centennial Campus.  I would like to see a cost comparison between the design/construction of this building versus a bland brick box that would house the same square footage and program space.  I have the feeling the difference is minimal, especially over the lifetime of the building.

  • Fred
    10/20 01:49 PM

    Greath, another modernist masterpiece. Oh, I can’t wait to see in 5 years how the drywall is separating in the odd-angled corners, the clear packing tape used as replacement window caulking, the towels shoved in window sills to collect the condensation, etc.

    Oh, and I mustn’t forget the after-the-fact skateboard deterrences that will be installed outside!

  • Jamalsky Jones
    10/20 04:20 PM

    Fred, learn how to spell, then come back with some sarcastic comments.

  • lee
    10/20 05:24 PM

    oh they already broke ground, watching trucks hauling dirt everyday.

  • TSnow27604
    10/20 07:31 PM

    I hope this will inspire more “good” modern architecture in the area.  Welcome to the 21st century Raleigh.

  • Betsy
    10/21 11:06 AM

    The architecture is pretty, but the site layout is completely suburban.  Too bad.

  • Fred
    10/21 12:49 PM

    @Jamalsky Jones:
    Learn how to spell? Really? Petty much?

    No, here’s the deal: You come back in five years and show me that all that I predicted isn’t happening.

  • Rex
    10/21 01:37 PM

    Hey Freddie - just because you won’t be able to skate or die at the new library doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about other folk’s inability to spell. We’re all friends here.

  • Fred
    10/21 04:12 PM

    I wasn’t critiquing anyone’s ability to spell (that would be Jamalsky - check the thread above). Still, yeah, I flew off the handle, and I don’t like to do that. My apologies.

  • revolu
    10/21 05:20 PM

    There seem to be some concerns with the plan.  The building does look sick though.  No denying. I hope it leads to better architecture on campus.

  • Rex
    10/21 05:40 PM

    Right on. And the handle is hot on New Raleigh. It happens occasionally (see recent The Well press release - people went nuts over a bar they’ll probably never attend.)

    All the best.

  • Anton
    10/21 08:20 PM

    This is certainly good news for Centennial Campus. Unfortunately, due to the construction, the Wolfline/Werewolf stop has been relocated from the Textiles location to a corner just up the street with no emergency call-box. Seems like its a minor complaint, but I can’t wait until its raining/snowing/lightning-ing and having to wait on some corner without a shelter. I understand that the Wolfline can’t use the Textiles turnaround due to the delivery trucks during the day, but why can’t the Werewolf come through the turnaround? I’ll bet the Wolfline drivers aren’t even reporting the massive dropoff in ridership since they moved the Textiles stop. Bad planning all around. I guess I wouldn’t complain so much if I was actually still going to be at State when the library was finished. Oh well, my rant is over. Good to see that Centennial Campus will be getting a sweet looking building. Let’s hope that Fred is wrong about the deterioration rate. :)

  • dbearhug
    10/28 01:22 AM

    I hope that the automated book retrieval system is more reliable than the one I remember.  The RAND-triever at Ohio State’s Medical Library was constantly breaking down, and it was finally removed.  When I saw the video online, it brought back some interesting flashbacks to my training at that time.

    Granted, the technology has likely improved.  And, my memory is tainted by a first-generation prototype (not unlike the Personal Rapid Transit system over at Duke Hospital…), so I won’t be too harsh.  But, who looks up a book now???

  • DPK
    11/01 12:38 PM

    @Anton: NCSU DOT is working to put a shelter at the new bus stop location.

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