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Sense of Place

Alfred R. Goldstein College Library at the Ringling College of Art and Design

University Business, May 2018
  • RAINBOWS AND FURNITURE—Bright pops of color identify the library’s program areas, including a room for gaming studies and a 24-hour learning laboratory with computers and Cintiq interactive displays. The furnishings decorating the building were chosen by students who went to a fair hosted by architect Shepley Bulfinch.
  • RAINBOWS AND FURNITURE—Bright pops of color identify the library’s program areas, including a room for gaming studies and a 24-hour learning laboratory with computers and Cintiq interactive displays. The furnishings decorating the building were chosen by students who went to a fair hosted by architect Shepley Bulfinch.

The Alfred R. Goldstein library, a facility described by its namesake as “the heart and the brain of our institution,” was originally located on the first floor of a building on the east side of the Ringling College of Art and Design’s campus in Sarasota, Florida.

The college has now given the library its own three-story structure in the heart of the campus.

CHALLENGE: In 2011, Ringling College administrators wanted to honor what the library represented to Alfred R. Goldstein, a benefactor of the college who served on the board for 15 years. They did so by relocating it to central campus.

The desired location, however, would have needed a great deal of demolition, so they chose a site that required only demolition of an academic facility and adjacent parking lot.

A problem remained: Two busy city streets intersected at the desired point, and the city denied the college’s request to vacate a portion of the road, says Tracy Wagner, vice president for finance and administration.

SOLUTION: Ringling College installed crosswalks and speed tables to slow traffic at the intersection. Meanwhile, other construction projects inadvertently shifted the institution’s boundaries, placing the library site at the new center of campus.

The nearly 50,000-square-foot facility, with three stories, quadruples the size of the old library. Those who climb the building’s weaving, open staircase notice that each floor gets quieter. The ground floor, a hub of activity with a café and multiple departments, leads to workspaces and a resource center.

At the top is the library’s open collection of 123,000 pieces. Each level flows out onto terraces.

“We had very high hopes that this new building would become the new heart and brain of the institution,” says Wagner. “And in that, it has exceeded our wildest dreams.”

COST: $20 million

COMPLETED: January 2017

PROJECT TEAM: Associate architect: Sweet Sparkman; contractor: Willis Smith Construction; structural engineer: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger; mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer: TLC Engineering; civil engineer: George F. Young; landscape architect: David W. Johnston Associates