Ohio State students can gather around the fireplace to study now that the 18th Avenue Library’s first floor has opened.
Renovations to the library are on time and the facility is fully functional for the first time since the university switched from quarters to semesters in Fall Semester 2012.
The budgeted $1.9 million project was renovated gradually as the library, formerly named the Science and Engineering Library, remained open and available for use throughout the construction process.
“One of the things that adds time to a project is having the building open 24/7 (while) we’re under construction. Renovating a building while it’s in use is a bit of a challenge,” said Bruce Leach, head of the 18th Avenue Library.
The project was allotted a $1.9 million budget in order “to perform needed upgrades to the space so it can best serve our students’ academic needs,” OSU spokeswoman for Administration and Planning Lindsay Komlanc said in an email. She said in a later email the project was “both on time and on budget.”
The first floor receives a significant amount of traffic, Komlanc said, so the project also created a new entrance to the building along 18th Avenue to help traffic flow more efficiently and make the building more accessible.
The streamlined first floor now features increased seating in the Terra Byte Cafe, two areas with computer workstations, new furniture and lighting, a centralized printing station and a lounge alcove with an electric fireplace.
No changes were made to the spaces or foodservice capabilities of the cafe, Komlanc and Leach said.
Acock Associates Architects, the same firm that executed a substantial upgrade to William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library from 2007-09, designed the changes.
The conversion of one of the signature arched windows on the north side into a second entrance required some of the more noticeable and intensive construction work.
“The 18th Avenue entrance is like a pressure release valve on the building, another opportunity for people to come in from that direction and either head upstairs or to the cafe,” Leach said.
In 2012, Leach said users visited the library 1.3 million times.
Stand-up computer stations, which Leach said were in an often crowded area in the center of the old layout, now line one side of a curved partitioning “bar” that divides the study area from the cafe space. This replaces a cluster of workstations that used to contribute to congestion and obstructed foot traffic within the main lobby.
Leach said construction personnel made good use of time during the university’s summer and winter breaks to perform more intensive interior work, including the replacement of flooring that was worse for wear in the more than 20-year-old building.
“A lot of time went into planning for when loud, dirty work could be done that wouldn’t get in the way of when students are studying,” Leach said.
Some students had positive things to say about the upgrades.
Staff member Jordan Mendenhall, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering, said while the new design resulted in less space for employees, it “hasn’t changed a whole lot about how we actually go about working.”
“It definitely looks a lot better though, as far as the aesthetics,” Mendenhall said.
Other students said the new door is one of the renovation’s best features.
“This (new) door is really, really nice. Before, we used to all funnel in from that (existing) door,” said Kristin Snider, a third-year in wildlife science and an employee at Terra Byte Cafe. “It allows flow a lot easier. This allows more people, which is, I think, another reason why they did the renovations. People would come in, they would bleed over and even then they didn’t have anywhere to work so they would go up(stairs).”
Snider said she hasn’t noticed an increase in traffic since the reopening.
“I haven’t noticed us get significantly busier. We’ve always been really busy, especially during lunch,” Snider said. “This is still the beginning of the semester. Maybe later, when we get toward midterms, it might increase, but we haven’t had a chance to see it yet because there isn’t as much traffic as there will be then.”
Gracey Crombie, a third-year in psychology and criminology who also works at the Terra Byte Cafe, said she’s happy with the renovations as well.
“There’s a lot more sitting space. It used to fill up very quickly, but now there’s a lot more people sitting here with the added space. The bathrooms got completely redone, too, and they are nice,” Crombie said.
Sydney Kiel, a first-year in international studies, said the added entrance “makes things a little less hectic.”
Leach said the upgrades to the campus resource were long overdue.
“The finishes were just worn out. This building was designed to be a big box of paper with some seats for people in it,” Leach said.
Correction: Jan. 14, 2014
A previous version of this article referred to Kristin Snider as Kristin Snyder on second and third references.