New Look for Langsdale
It’s finally happening: Langsdale is getting a facelift. With the University of Baltimore becoming, bit by bit, a modern and glittering campus—see the bright, glass hive of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, the sloped and swirling geometry of the Student Center—Langsdale was beginning to feel a bit like an old shoe. But that is all about to change.
On Wednesday, Jan. 15, six firms were chosen to present their designs for the renovation and remodeling of Langsdale Library. As expected, many of the firms focused on the library as a space of learning and collaboration, one brimming with new technology and spaces adaptable to a variety of needs. This is a long way from the old mode of thinking about libraries as giant book warehouses, an idea that predominated both the philosophies of architects and librarians alike. Those days are dead and gone. The day just before us is full of color and light, glass and open floor-plans, in a word, spaces designed more for people than books. Concepts of airy, collaborative spaces were featured in one way or another in each of the design proposals presented at the contest.
Ground was broken for Langsdale Library on April 7, 1965 to accommodate both a growing collection of books and a growing student body. The building as it looks today was designed in the brutalist style (which, believe it or not was en vogue at the time of construction) by local architect Henry Powell Hopkins. Aside from the façade of the building looking progressively dated, the “bones,” as many of the architects at the competition called them, are still in good shape. For this reason, there was no need to start from scratch, instead the building will be gutted and given an entirely new identity, one that will serve the current needs of patrons and students, while remaining flexible enough to change with the times and with technology.
On January 31, the winner of the design competition was announced. Behnish Architen, the firm that drew plans for the Law Center, won with a design that celebrated the current façade’s strong vertical lines, bringing them squarely into the 21st century both aesthetically and technologically. The new design will be LEED certified and feature many similar environmentally-friendly features that now make the Law Center the jewel of the UB campus.
We are excited for the range of possibilities a new building will afford the library, and thankful to the Governor, the Maryland legislature and President Robert Bogomolny for their commitment to the project and the support they have shown University of Baltimore’s library.