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Interior Architecture Students Partner with Montgomery Institutions for Summer 2012 Thesis

Proposal Drawing


Interior Architecture students have mounted an exhibit cataloging design possibilities for the Rufus A. Lewis Branch Library in west Montgomery and the E. L. Lowder Branch Library in east Montgomery.  The nearly identical structures constructed in the early 1990s, were the focus of the 2012 Interior Architecture Summer Thesis studio led by Kevin Moore andRobert Sproull.  The class explored design solutions that allow the two buildings to accommodate emerging future technologies while meeting the changing needs of their local communities.

Students met with Glenda Walker and the staff of the Lewis library and Julia-Ann Jenkins and the staff of the Lowder library to discuss the branches as unique public institutions. Mary McLemore, an Auburn alumna who is President of the Friends of the Montgomery City-County Public Library and member of the Library Board of Trustees, facilitated these discussions and provided valuable insight throughout the ten-week studio.

The work on display respects each library as vital public institution with a diverse and loyal constituency.  It also acknowledges that the Montgomery City-Country Public Library has embraced digital media to improve access to resources, which conserves space and has the potential to redefine the library as a collaborative place to share and create knowledge.  Renovation becomes a realistic, sustainable and innovative solution to evolving needs.

While the proposed renovations take advantage of unique differences between the Lewis and Lowder branches, many ideas developed by the students can transfer between libraries.  Professor Moore describes the results of the studio as  a collection of “rigorous daydreams” ranging from modest and sensible to exuberant and experimental.  Students explored meaningful variety between and within the two libraries as qualities of air—heat, sound and air-scattered light—to promote diverse activities such as concentrated study, computer instruction, and community meetings.

The students researched a diverse range of design scales; from furniture, lighting, and textiles to trees (and even alternatives to an asphalt parking lot).  To prepare for the design phase of the studio, students studied the work of Eliel and Eero Saarinen. They also travelled to visit  seminal projects by these architects in Detroit and Columbus, Indiana.  Based on this study, students have developed an informed position on interior and exterior materials.  These materials structure thermal, acoustic and luminous qualities of air, and, ultimately, social and civic places.

The exhibit of student work from the studio opened August 6 at each library, and is on display until the end of September.  The E. L. Lowder Branch Library is located at 2590 Bell Road and the Rufus A. Lewis Branch Library at 3095 Mobile Highway.