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State of the Art Library is Home to the Classics

February 8, 2013

The new James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University

Perched high above Lake Raleigh on the Centennial Campus of NCSU, the new James B. Hunt Jr. Library opened to students last month and I got to check it out this past weekend. Essentially a big shoebox of a building sexed up with interesting surface "fins" and huge swaths of glass, the new state of the art facility is still modern and impressive -- a nice sparkle in a sea of red bricks. (Full disclosure: I am a proud graduate of NCSU.)

 

Interior of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University

While I'm no connoiseur of libraries (my partner, John, is in the biz hence this visit) there were a couple of design-related, if un-related, things I found interesting: First, the variety of chair designs nearly made me giddy, especially since many were high-end modern classics; next, and even more unexpected, the books stacks are under the building. Pics of some of my favorite chairs from the Hunt are below. The stacks are behind glass on the lower floor where you can watch the BookBot crawl through some 2 million volumes so you don't have to. A link to a video about it is below as well.

Ball chair, plastic and upholstery, 1963, by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio.

 

Ball chair, plastic and upholstery, 1963, by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio.

 

Le Bambole, leather with steel skeleton, 1972 (re-issued 2007), by Italian architect Mario Bellini.

 

Le Bambole, leather with steel skeleton, 1972 (re-issued 2007), by Italian architect Mario Bellini.

 

Coconut Chair, leather, plastic, and steel, 1955, by American designer George Nelson.

 

Coconut Chair, leather, plastic, and steel, 1955, by American designer George Nelson.

 

Platner coffee table, glass and steel, c.1965, by American architect Warren Platner.

 

Platner coffee table, glass and steel, c.1965, by American architect Warren Platner.

 

Wingchair (CH445), leather and steel, 1960 by Danish designer Hans J. Wegner.

 

Wingchair (CH445), leather and steel, 1960 by Danish designer Hans J. Wegner.

 

NCSU Hunt Library bookBot robotic book delivery system

At the core of the Hunt Library is the bookBot robotic book delivery system, which can store up to two million items in a climate-controlled environment and deliver any of them within five minutes of a click in the online catalog. Requiring 1/9 the space of conventional shelving, the bookBot helps transform this 21st-century library from a storage facility into a rich environment of learning and collaborative spaces. Watch it work here.