Fenwick Library to be completed winter 2016

This story was originally published in the Oct. 20 issue of Fourth Estate

The construction on Fenwick Library is on schedule to complete by winter of 2016.

According to the Fenwick Focus website, the exterior on all five stories of the building is expected to be fully enclosed by Thanksgiving.

Project Engineer Johnny Trejos says other construction objectives include finishing all plumbing, mechanical and electrical installations before the cold weather arrives. If weather permits, Trejos says the crane at the construction site should be removed on Oct. 16 and 17.

This construction project began in late 2012 and will add 150,000 square feet to the library. According to Senior Project Manager Alex Izsard, the amount of study spaces will be four times the number in the current library, totaling 2,400.

“The addition will nearly double the size of the library to provide much needed study space on the campus.” Iszard said.

The project, according to Trejos, is state-funded and will cost about $60 million.

According to Iazard, additions to the building will include a reading room for formal events, a research commons to support individual or collaborative projects, the 24 hour study space and café, a designated research and study area for graduate students and additional book storage capacity to support the library needs for the foreseeable future.

The addition is also supposed to feature a 24-hour café, however, Director of Campus Planning Cathy Wolfe says that it is currently unclear whether the café study space will be accessible 24 hours.

“We don’t know if the café space will have 24 hour access or operation,” Wolfe said. “As we progress in the project and a vendor for the café is identified we will be able to provide additional information on that.”

According to Fenwick Focus, the improved collections and archives department will be housed on the second floor to accommodate growth in research and study materials.

“Within two years all remaining space for research materials will have been exhausted, so more space for collections is desperately needed,” Trejos said.

During the construction, some collections had to be moved to other wings in Fenwick or transferred to the Johnson Center and Arlington campus libraries. Staff workspace has been shuffled around, according to Fenwick Focus, as library staff members had to use some Fenwick study rooms as temporary workspace for six weeks during spring of last year.

This construction project has been planned since Mason Facilities’ 2007 library feasibility study, which outlines a vision of improvements for Mason libraries. According to the study, the projected headcount at the Fairfax campus is expected to increase 56% by 2030, creating a need for Fenwick’s addition.

Trejos said the study also outlines specific needs for the library, including clusters or zones for different activities are desirable with clusters of computers and printers on multiple floors that are easy to locate, more areas where students can interact with faculty and a symbolic place, such as a more formal reading room. These changes will help Fenwick’s image as the university’s main research library and network hub.

This will be the fourth addition to Fenwick and this year marks its 47 year anniversary. The original library was created in 1967 and consisted only the two-story, white columned section. According to Iszard, the first tower closest to Robinson, Wing B, and the second tower closest to Piedmont, Wing C were the second and third additions. Both were added in 1978 and 1982.

Plans to make changes to the Fenwick Library will continue after this addition is completed.

“There is a phase three in planning to demolish the original two-story building of the library and to refinish the façade of the towers, but there is no funding for this phase and will not happen for at least another four or five years,” Trejos said.

Photo Credit: Amy Rose