Reinvisioning and Redesigning "A Library for the Fifteenth through Twenty-First Centuries": A Case Study on Loss of Space from the Library and Center for Knowledge Management, University of California, San Francisco*

Article excerpt

The University of California, San Francisco, is an academic health sciences campus that is part of a state public university system. Space is very limited at this urban campus, and the library building's 90,000 square feet represent extremely valuable real estate. A planning process spanning several years initially proposed creating new teaching space utilizing 10,000 square feet of the library. A collaborative campus-wide planning process eventually resulted in the design of a new teaching and learning center that integrates clinical skills, simulation, and technology-enhanced education facilties on one entire floor of the building (21,000 square feet). The planning process resulted in a project that serves the entire campus and strengthens the library's role in the education mission. The full impact of the project is yet unknown as construction is not complete.


Reports in the literature and surveys of students and faculty document the changing nature of library space, creating opportunities to design spaces that serve today's academic communities. Transforming library space contributes to relevancy in an academic environment and addresses ongoing questions about the value of library and library space. At the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the creation of a teaching and learning center (TLC) created an opportunity to design new space for existing library functions and to forge closer alliances with campus programs. The TLC emerged from several years of planning and collaboration to address critical space needs for expanding education programs and to fulfill new goals for telemedicine training in California. This process ultimately led to the realization of a multipurpose facility that integrates clinical skills, simulation, and technologyenhanced education facilities onto the second floor of the Parnassus campus library, optimizing the space into a state-of-the-art education and teaching facility.


UCSF is an academic health sciences campus that includes schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy and 19 graduate programs. It is one of 10 research campuses in the California state university system. UCSF has 2,600 students and 18,600 staff and faculty. This urban campus is distributed in multiple locations, the 2 primary locations known as Parnassus and Mission Bay. Currently, the Parnassus campus includes clinical facilities and research labs and is the location of the majority of the classroom teaching. Mission Bay is primarily a basic science research campus, with some teaching and plans for hospitals within the next 5 years.

The UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management, located on the Parnassus campus, opened in 1990 and is the newest building on campus. Its attractive design is unique to this urban, utilitarian campus and serves as a showplace, with spectacular views, space for quiet reflection and study, and common ceremonial space for gatherings, as well as typical library functional space. Due to state-mandated space restrictions, the Parnassus campus has not been able to add a new building since 1990. The opening of the Mission Bay campus provided opportunities to expand labs and classrooms for graduate programs, but teaching space on the Parnassus campus is woefully inadequate in quantity and functionality for the demand. Changing curricula require multiple, small-group sessions, as well as space to practice individual and team skills with simulated patients and equipment.


Beginning in 2004, there were suggestions about rethinking the use of the UCSF library space, both as a way to address the increasing pressure for classrooms and the recognition that digitization could potentially open up library space. As a first step, the school of medicine commissioned the original library architect to explore repurposing the top two floors of the library into classrooms. These floors were prime campus real estate, with commanding views and a meeting room used heavily for campus-wide functions. …