Charles Library at Temple University

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The 220,000 square-foot Charles Library defines a new social and academic heart for a diverse student body, reinterpreting the traditional research library.

Sweeping wood arched entrances welcome visitors and expanses of glass create maximum transparency at three major entrances. Soaring arches form a dramatic 3-story domed lobby, with an atrium that offers views to each building corner, serving as a wayfinding anchor. A dramatic oculus carved into the wood-clad dome pours light into the lobby.

A prominent steel-clad main stair ascends to the building’s highest level, inviting visitors to explore while remaining oriented. At the main stair’s base, a service desk facilites access to the library collection which is stored primarily in the high-density automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). The system stores 1.5 million volumes, freeing up space for people. Laptops and charging banks are available on every floor. More than 40 meeting rooms and study spaces are available for reservation.

A sun-filled fourth floor encourages browsing through the library’s 200,000 volume collection and is surrounded by private study spaces. At the north and south ends of the fourth floor are two expansive reading rooms. Glazed walls provide views out to an expansive green roof, offering an unexpected biophilic moment within the urban campus.

By enhancing connectivity to academic resources and fostering learning through social interaction, the design inspires students to engage more directly with the library’s activity. This world-class facility marks a transformative moment for Temple University, the City of Philadelphia, and for academic libraries around the world.

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