Study Zone Perspectives. The Architect: Bennett Wagner Grody (BWG)

Architect designer perspective: the Study Zone at HSL

Health Sciences Library 2nd floor north, journal stacks to study area at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.


Before (May 2017)


After (June 2017) demolition and deconstruction to pave the way…


The original design of the Health Sciences Library included a traditional mix of open floor area dedicated to stacks, casual seating areas, and enclosed group study rooms.  Over time, two phenomena were observed by the library administrators.  They noticed students’ increasing preference to study alone versus in groups.  These students would routinely “camp out” alone in group study rooms, nobly absorbed in their studies.  The inefficient use of private study space became a growing concern to staff and students alike.  Another change since the library’s opening has been the impact of technology, namely electronic storage of information replacing the need for physical volumes.  This has reduced, but not eliminated, the amount of stacks required in this area of the library.  The primary goal of the project is to address current needs for study spaces as made possible by recapturing floor area no longer required by the stacks.

HSL Study Zone. Opens Oct 2017.

Concept & Organization:

The all glass entrance to the suite will be located adjacent to the elevator lobby on the north side.  The suite lobby will be open and inviting.  A wood ceiling grille is proposed to mark the entrance.  The second exit from this suite will be needed at the south side by the Kitchenette area.  This area has three (3) existing bay windows with full-height glass.  The proposed lay-out is to keep the area directly in front of the bay windows open for loose seating to allow natural light into the interior spaces. The new renovated area will provide up to an additional 112 seats for study. Considering each student has different preferences of how they like to study, several 2-person and individual enclosed study rooms plus different types of loose furniture and furniture type study pods are proposed.


We have evaluated student study preferences and the physical characteristics of the renovation area and propose the following features of the project:

  • Provide several enclosed individual and 2-person study rooms. These rooms will have power but no built-in technology such as a flat screen monitor or video conferencing.  Furnishings will be limited to a single large table and one or two chairs.  The 2-person study rooms will be enclosed by full height walls, accessed through a glass sliding door.  Individual study rooms will be enclosed by full height walls with a pivot glass door. The enclosed study rooms will be located away from the outside walls and constructed with clerestory glass on 2 sides to extend natural light to all rooms.
  • Provide furniture type study pods for individual and group use. Some of the furniture type study pods will have a full-height (70”) partition for privacy and some with a mid-height (54”) partition.
  • This new study suite is in a secured area accessed by card reader.
  • Lounge seating with high backs will be provided to offer more sense of privacy. All lounge seating will be accompanied with a side table.
  • The existing 4-person group room at the southwest corner of this suite will house 2 energy pod units. This location will allow this room to be able to control light and sound independently.  The existing full-height glass wall will remain with added privacy frosted film and a security monitoring system will be installed for the safety of the students.


This new study suite should set a standard for future renovations.  The material and colors need to be enticing, fun, and conducive for young generations.  While the goal is to set this area apart from the rest of the library, some reference or tie back into the existing space is incorporated.

Voraporn “Mai” Sundarapura
Matthew C. Bartels  AIA