Fant Memorial Library

COLUMBUS, Miss.—Mississippi University for Women’s Fant Memorial Library received the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2018 Merit Award, recognizing the radical transformation and sustainability of the facility.

 “The dramatic redesign of Fant Memorial Library allows the library to continually evolve as our community changes in the 21st century. Responding to growing student need for new group learning environments, we are able to store low-use materials in our high-density, cost-effective and cutting-edge ‘book robot’,” said Amanda Powers, dean of library services.

The AIA Mississippi Design Awards program seeks to encourage excellence and elevate the quality of architecture by recognizing and honoring works of distinction by its members and bringing to public attention outstanding examples of architecture and design. Sustainable design and construction are of particular interest to the design jurors.

Built in 1967, Fant Memorial Library, originally 25,019 square feet, was a blocky two-story home to more than 250,000 volumes that spanned wall-to-wall and floor-to-floor.   

Burris/Wagnon Architects, P.A. noted in the award’s entry, “MUW’s campus requested a radical transformation of its half-century library – dispersion of the book collection, allowing for a thinner, lighter, dynamic, populated and collaborative environment. State-of-the-art lecture and conferencing facilities, study rooms, special collections, gathering/seating areas and a cybercafe were designed.”

Additionally, a three-story Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS)—the first in the state and in the region, allowed for the university to expand its collections without increasing its physical footprint, making more square footage available for classrooms, meeting rooms, group study rooms. The ASRS is better known on campus as Athena.

Fant Memorial Library“We now have room for 75,000 books on open shelving for serendipitous discovery, while still creating space for 14 group study rooms, two classrooms, a flexible meeting space and a coffee shop.  The renovation also created room for the Beulah Culbertson Archives and Special Collections to focus on and expand our holdings related to Mississippi women’s leadership and history. In creating a sustainable and community-focused design, the architects at Burris / Wagnon have given library the ability to grow and thrive as the heart of campus,” added Powers.   

The two-story library coffee shop, known as Common Grounds, allows seating for 100, including both traditional café and patio seating. Common Grounds provides the campus community with a full-service Starbucks coffee menu.

Now totaling 61,800 square feet, the library hosts a new front façade, floating study rooms and an inner courtyard that offers dynamic and varied views.

The decade long project originally began in October of 2007 with advances over the years. Fant Memorial Library never closed during the process.

Nov. 8, 2018
Contact: Tyler Wheat
(662) 241-7863
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