Loyola’s Paperless Library Offers Stunning Lakeside Views

by , 11/09/10

loyola, eco, green, library, digital, architecture, sustainable, sustainable design, green design, green building, paperless library

Fantastic lakeshore views and an abundance of natural light are just two of the inviting features that draw students to the Richard J Klarchek Information Commons situated on the Loyola University campus in Chicago. This unconventional library is completely free of books — instead, its digital reading rooms connect students with information while they relax in arm chairs facing the waterfront tides. Resembling a glass box posed between limestone bookends, the design was able to triumph over glare and ventilation issues. Using an innovative three-tiered method for heating and cooling, the finished building consumes half the energy of those that meet standard building codes.

loyola, eco, green, library, digital, architecture, sustainable, sustainable design, green design, green building, paperless library

The key to the building’s energy savings is its east-facing single pane glass curtain and dual glass walls on the west side that feature a 3 foot cavity in between their layers. Integrated radiant slabs and an under-floor air system allow the natural lake breeze to move through automated openings in the glass wall windows, venting up and out through the west side cavity. To regulate the system’s temperature and humidity, a more conventional method of HVAC can kick in when needed. During the winter months, tubes beneath a raised floor combine with a radiant ceiling system to heat the building.

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  1. geva November 10, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Lea,

    Great point about keeping books up to date – I hadn’t thought about this need; which would certainly be important at a university.

    Another argument to consider about the computers is that perhaps these people all have them. I’m not saying that this makes it sustainable, however it does remove the computers/ereaders/tablets from the sustainability of the building.


  2. Lea Bogdan November 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Hi Geva. I love the feedback. Great points. That is an interesting thought – is any wifi enabled space actually a sort of “library.”
    I hear what you are saying about books being recyclable. I would argue that information changes so rapidly that printed resources are potentially outdated by the time they hit shelves. The amount of books, and change over in books, would be drastic to account for all of the knowledge available in real time on the internet. The books may be recyclable, but the printing process could be debatable as sustainable (side note, I think that industry as a whole has made considerable improvements in eco friendly processes). I don’t argue that computers components are a major challenge at end of life.

    In addition to being web enabled, I believe this building can be considered a “library”, because it is a center for student gathering, collaborating, and studying. You are correct as well, in saying it is sponsored by the campus libraries, and is the first in a master plan for updating other libraries on campus to focus on a green architecture.

  3. geva November 10, 2010 at 4:18 am

    I love modern buildings that employ natural climate control methods. This one is stunning to bat!

    I couldn’t help but wonder about the sustainability of a “paperless library”. Books are made from trees which can be replanted. Once printed, bound, and delivered, they do not need any more energy. At the end of life, they can be recycled, biodegrade, or burnt.

    Computers are made from all sorts of compounds and minerals which are finiate. They consume precious energy, as well as all the routers, switches, and other I.T equipment which make them talk together. At the end of life, they do not biodegrade well, recycling is costly and only for some of the components.

    So my question is why would you be proud of a paperless library? Haha… following the source link seems to show that this is not a library, but a common area/building which is a project sponsored in part by the university libraries!

    Seems like I can call my apartment a paperless library – minus the part with the books.

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