David Hiscoe, NCSU Libraries, (919) 513-3425
Snøhetta, the lead designer for North Carolina State University’s planned James B. Hunt Jr. Library, has been honored as co-recipient of the 2010 European Prize for Urban Public Space. The prize is a biennial competition organized by six European institutions with the aim to recognize and encourage recovery projects and the defense of public space in European cities.
The honor was awarded for the design of the National Opera House in Oslo, Norway, the largest cultural center built in the country in 700 years. Rapidly becoming an iconic building for Norway in the way that the Sydney Opera House is for Australia, the National Opera House is known for its dramatic integration with the surrounding landscape. Its sloping roof rises out of the adjacent fjord so that the building itself is not clearly distinguishable from the water that fronts it. As the committee that awarded the prize remarked, the design of the Opera House is especially noted for its ability to create a welcoming environment: “through its capacity to merge with topography and as topography, it generously offers itself to the public . . . . It draws people to the space.”
Snøhetta is working with Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, the North Carolina-based executive architect for the new Hunt Library, to deliver a signature building and a similarly iconic heart for NC State’s Centennial Campus. Located on the Centennial Campus academic oval, the new library will embody the spirit of NC State’s competitive advantage in science, engineering, textiles and technology, providing a research library that will be a major factor in attracting and retaining the best faculty, students and corporate partners. Hunt Library is also expected to become an international destination for those watching how research and learning can be a strong catalyst in a modern economy.
The new library will also help close a serious seating gap for the NCSU Libraries, which can currently seat less than five percent of NC State’s students. Hunt Library will double the amount of seats, moving NC State closer to the UNC system mandate to provide library study seating for twenty percent of the student body. Hunt Library will also reinforce the strong emphasis the NCSU Libraries places on acting as a technology incubator for the university. From its bold design, to its robotic automatic retrieval system, to the latest in computing and collaboration technologies, Hunt Library will continue to prepare the NC State community to lead in a technology-driven economy.
NC State broke ground on the Hunt Library in October 2009; construction is expected to be completed in 2012.