Navigating Hunt Library

For my analysis of a spatial environment, I chose to examine Hunt Library on Centennial Campus.

In this particular structure, the architecture firm Snøhetta attempted to design a technologically-sophisticated collaborative learning space. To do this, the architecture is kept extremely modern and simplistic, with the primary medium being steel and glass. Inside the structure, the use of white walls and floor-to-ceiling glass allows for copious amounts of light and overall perception of a spacious, open environment. Light is also used through the use of ceiling lighting, oriented in the direction of the intended walking path. Although a very large building, the use of glass and outside landscaping allows a visual connection to the outside — an element that helps to ground the overall design and create a focal point.

With the use of this objectively simple media, white walls are used to create a uniform interior to allow for several visual effects to take place. As can be noticed immediately upon entry of Hunt Library, color is an incredibly important element of the building’s design. To create a sense of direction and highlight the importance of certain areas, color is used to draw the visitor’s eye through the desired path. This can be seen with the use of a bright yellow to highlight the main staircase leading to other floors, emphasizing it with respect to the simple, white surroundings. This concept can also be seen with the painting of hallways in bright colors to designate areas of importance, such as bathrooms and elevators. As you progress through the levels of the library, color also plays a vital role in setting the tone in certain areas. In study areas, rooms are painted with dark, cool tones such as eggplant and slate gray. This is likely done to create more of a comfortable enclosed space. This is an intentional juxtaposition between the lively whites and the colors of the first-floor entry. Through this, the designers are able to not only create visual effects but generate an emotional response with the use of color.

In terms of the displays and general arrangement of furniture throughout Hunt Library, it once again follows a trend as you progress through the floors. Upon entry onto the second floor of Hunt, the profiles of all furniture and displays are kept low to the ground and unobtrusive. This is likely done to further emphasize the incredible glass panes and natural light. It can also be noted that all furniture is arranged in circular patterns or otherwise interconnected means. This is likely done to establish a welcoming environment conducive to collaboration and conversation; however, as you move to the third, fourth, and fifth floors, this changes. With entry to the designated study floors, the more fluid layout of the library’s entry is exchanged for intentionally private spaces. This is done with enclosed rooms, private desks, and dividing walls. With this, there is a general understanding of a quiet, respectful environment with limited collaboration; however, this sense of division is mitigated with the motif of glass, plants, and movement generated through elements of the circular desks.

Overall, both the design and the architecture of Hunt Library is extremely well thought out and executed. Should any changes be made to the building, I would personally suggest more incorporation of movement via color on the second floor. Although the library does an excellent job drawing the visitor’s eye up the glass facade, having tall plants throughout may help to further emphasize the architecture and consideration of nature in design. Also, the incorporation of more fluid lighting fixtures on the designated study floors would allow for a more open feeling in the workspace as well as an interesting design element.


Discussion — One Response

  • Mollie Caldwell 03/26/2020 on 4:40 PM

    Hi Lauren! I am so glad that you chose to analyze Hunt library for the navigating space assignment because it is one of my favorite buildings at NC State. I have always been very intrigued with the layout and the architecture of this building and love that you went into such great detail regarding this. I am a huge fan of the natural light that fills hunt library because natural light is scientifically proven to improve students test scores while also boosts mood, alertness, and concentration. This is vital when studying in a library. There were times when I would study at Hill library and would have no idea if it was still daytime or night time outside because it barely has any natural light. Hill can definitely feel like you are stuck in a cave at times, but I have never had that feeling at Hunt before. Hunt is very aesthetically pleasing to look at, especially with the color scheme that they have. I had actually never noticed before that the color in hunt library plays a role in navigating you through the space. That is so interesting and definitely something that I will acknowledge next time I go! I also never payed much attention to how on the first floor of seating there are all lower chairs and couches and as you go upstairs you get to more of normal seating. Also very interesting analysis! I wish you had talked about the top floor because it is my favorite and I think the rooftop access is a very cool element of the library and watching the sunset and sunrise can be used as a very nice brain break when studying and help motivate students more when it is over. I am curious if they might have done that on purpose? Also, I agree with the changes that you would make and I personally would love to see more actual tables and seating, rather than comfy chairs and couches throughout the library. I am personally not a fan of doing my homework in a lounge chair or on a couch because I have a difficult time holding all of my stuff but I feel as if Hunt might lack a necessary amount of tables to study at. Great post!

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