Alan F. Harre, President, Valparaiso University

Contemporary Design

Comprised of 105,000-square-feet of space, the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources was designed by Esherick, Homsey, Dodge and Davis of Chicago to "break the mold" of institutional libraries. The wireless building accommodates current study preferences by replacing study carrels with soft furniture in "living room" settings, several complete with fireplaces. Snacks and beverages are available at Grinders Café and may be taken to all parts of the library other than the book stacks. Group study areas in a variety of sizes and computer clusters support the current teaching methods that encourage development of teamwork as students work on group projects and presentations.

Books and other traditional information resources mix with computers and access to the Internet on every floor. The computer-driven, robotic Automated Storage and Retrieval System uses space efficiently and allowed the overall shelving capacity in the center to increase to 600,000 volumes without having to increase the size of the building.

The grid-like structure flanking the south and east sides of the building’s exterior provides an interesting appearance for the building while serving as a valuable sun screen. This protects the books from harmful, constant exposure to sun rays and helps soften the sunlight entering the two-story reading room overlooking Resurrection Meadow south of the chapel. At the same time, library users enjoy spaces bathed in natural light.