University Moves Forward With Plans for Major Addition to Fenwick Library

Posted: April 13, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

From University Libraries

Building Patiot Pride logo

Design work for the expansion of Fenwick Library on the Fairfax Campus will start this week, and the university community is invited to participate in planning for the new addition.

“We are embarking on an exciting undertaking that will obviously touch all parts of the university,” notes John Zenelis, university librarian.

He adds that the building addition will fulfill critical library space needs for the university.

“We have a unique opportunity to develop the right balance of functional programming for the new facility, addressing distinct needs of upper-level undergraduate and graduate students, as well as those of the faculty, and to construct a signature building that will not only symbolize the institution that Mason has become, but also capture our aspirations for the future.”

The new building will be built in the lot south of Fenwick and will connect to the two Fenwick towers (Wings B and C).

The university’s Master Facilities Plan provides for the eventual demolition of Wing A, the original part of the library erected in the mid-1960s. Entry into the new building complex will be from the center of the Fairfax Campus.

As part of this project, plans call for the repurposing of a major portion of the Johnson Center Library into a “Learning Commons” focused on assisting students with beginning and intermediate scholarly research skills.

The new library building will be 150,000 square feet. Once constructed, it will provide approximately double the net space of the existing Fenwick Library.

Aside from additional space for expanding collections, service points and library staff work areas, the new facility will enable the university to meet growing needs for a variety of study and research spaces.

The 2007 master plan for the university’s libraries made the following general recommendation for the expanded Fenwick Library:

“The focus of the expanded and renewed Fenwick Library will be centered on the development of a Research Commons. The Research Commons is envisioned to be a place for scholarship and the gateway to in-depth research from which a user can consult with and be advised by librarian subject specialists. The program for the Research Commons will include Consultation Support Services and spaces to meet the needs of all faculty and students, but in particular, advanced researchers.”

Further, the master plan called for the following primary goals for the “new and expanded” Fenwick Library:

  • Provide improved scholarly research and focused study environments

  • Improve navigability of collections areas

  • Expand Special Collections and Archives

  • Enhance access to distinctive collections and knowledge specialists

  • Provide technology-enhanced collaborative study spaces

  • Celebrate the library’s presence on the campus as the center of intellectual life for the university

The new library programming and conceptual design phases are scheduled to be completed by the end of June. This phase will be followed by schematic design, design development, construction documents and bidding phases. Construction is anticipated to commence by January 2011, with the building scheduled for occupancy in January 2013.

The university community is invited to participate in planning for the library addition. The following open meetings for students and faculty and staff members are scheduled at the Johnson Center Library Instruction Room, Room 228:

Faculty and Staff

Wednesday, April 15, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

Tuesday, April 28, 1–2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13, 2–3:30 p.m.

Undergraduate Students

Wednesday, April 15, 1:30–3 p.m.

Monday, April 27, noon–1:30 p.m.

Graduate Students

Thursday, April 16, 2:30–4 p.m.

Monday, April 27, 1:30–3 p.m.

An e-community around the creation of the new library is also under development. This special web site will enable wider input from the Mason community through blogging-style contributions and commentary, as well as provide progress updates as the project advances.

The university has retained Boston-based Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, an internationally known architectural firm specializing in academic library buildings, for the project. Shepley Bulfinch assisted Mason two years ago in developing a master plan for all of the university’s libraries.

The firm’s work will be guided by a steering committee whose membership includes students, faculty members, librarians and administrators. The committee’s full roster will be posted on the newlibrary.gmu.edu web site, and its members may be contacted to provide suggestions for this endeavor.

Write to at