Wallace Library renovation transforms first floor

William Rawn Associates

This design rendering shows RIT’s Student Hall for Exploration and Discovery in relation to Wallace Library along the quarter mile.

Wallace Library’s first floor is undergoing extensive demolition and renovation this winter, and the makeover will be stunning.

The library building will reopen to the RIT community in fall 2023, along with completion of the Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED) and the Monroe Hall renovation, according to Marcia Trauernicht, director of RIT Libraries.

“The space will be very open when you come in the front entrance of Wallace on the first floor,” Trauernicht said. “There will be no physical barriers as before. You walk in, and you are in the library immediately. You can see the entire floor and into the SHED.”

To achieve the airy vibe, the construction crew will open up the lobby, rip out the central elevator, and liberate the surrounding space. The result will create a new experience for patrons entering the library. A bank of large elevators will be installed where the Wallace Library and the SHED meet, Trauernicht said.

The new construction phase has led library staff with first-floor offices to work remotely or from temporary spaces on campus, and Java Wally’s to temporarily close until the lobby reopens in the fall.

Wallace Library initially closed to RIT patrons last summer, and the print collection moved temporarily to the Frank Ritter Ice Arena. “Wallace on Ice” will remain at Ritter until the Wallace building reopens.

Staff in the special collections—Cary Graphic Arts Collection and RIT Archives—have continued to work with patrons by appointment and teach class sessions in temporary space on the west side of the building while their new facilities are constructed with access to the SHED. The Cary Collection and archives will move in the fall into their new homes on the second and third floors, while Digital Scholarship Services, which relocated with them, will return to its ground-floor space in A500. Construction on a new library instruction lab will replace the temporary space built for the collections. Existing study rooms will remain on the second floor along with the print collection currently in the Ritter arena.

Located across from the RIT Press offices on the second floor, the Cary Collection’s new home will include reading and research rooms, an instructional area, staff offices, and a designated space for the storied Kelmscott Press.

A working museum of the history of the graphic arts will line the hallway joining Wallace Library and the SHED and will feature other printing presses from the collection.

“Many of the printing presses will be on display in that passage, and there will be room enough that they can actually be used for classes,” Trauernicht said. “The museum will look impressive in that area, especially as you walk from the SHED into Wallace on the second floor.”

RIT Archives will return to the third floor, along with the RIT museum and a new floating exhibition space and seating space in the center of that floor, Trauernicht said. The remainder of the third floor will consist of classrooms, study rooms of varying sizes, a quiet study space, and the library’s computer lab. The fourth floor will hold more classrooms and study rooms, she added.

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