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SMC’s Expanded Library Wins Prize, Praise:

Santa Monica College’s Library expansion and modernization has won not only an Award of Honor in the Modernization Project category from the state’s Community College Facility Coalition, but an endorsement from the people who use it.

The building was designed by CO Architects of Los Angeles.

The coalition is made up of architects, engineers and contractors, as well as representatives of the colleges.

The $23.6 million project, which was completed in August, 2003, nearly doubled the library’s size to 96,500 square feet and redesigned the exterior. It also included seismic retrofitting and new landscaping. benches, lighting and more.

The architects (formerly Anshen+Allen Los Angeles) released the results of a usage survey that was conducted approximately one year after the completion of 56,000 square foot renovation and 42,000 square foot expansion of the three-story, metal, glass and concrete library.

The study indicated that 96 percent of visitors and 80 percent of the staff like “the look and feel” of the facility; 94 percent of visitors and the entire staff felt the exterior of the building “projects an appropriate image” for the library; and on average 86 percent of the respondents felt the renovation/expansion goals were achieved. Perhaps the most telling result of the study is that in the year since the project was completed, student usage has increased from more than 3,000 to more than 7,000 per day.

Nearly 50 percent of the students use the library weekly and just over 40 percent use the facility daily to study, conduct research, use computers, photocopy, print or scan materials, use and check out materials, and use class material on reserve.

In addition, there has been a significant increase among students, 39 percent of those polled, who use the library to meet friends and relax. Participants reported that, as a commuter college, SMC needed a variety of meeting spaces and places to “chill and hang out.” Use of technology rose significantly as well, with more than 50 percent of those polled accessing information electronically, and 87 percent using the Internet at the library for schoolwork or research. The number of students using laptops in this facility is above average for an urban in city campus. Though 72 percent of the respondents were happy with the network connections, WiFi installation is being “completed” throughout the library in anticipation of a growing number of laptop users among the visitor population.

CO Architects senior principal Peter Stazicker, AIA, RIBA, said, “By creating clearly defined goals at the start based on input from staff and visitors, we were able to create a functional landmark for the campus.”

The architects organized the library around an elliptical wood-paneled “building-within-a-building,” contained at the north end by a three-story seating area. This centerpiece contains electronic reference workstations and multimedia labs.To complement the centerpiece, an enclosed photocopy center and a 47-station computerized library instruction classroom were created. The renovation nearly quadrupled the number of computer stations from 65 to 220, added 21 group study rooms, and provided additional data port and power outlets in most of the study carrels and tables throughout the building.

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