James B. Hunt Library - new venue at North Carolina State University

3/6/2013 12:51 PM CET

The new James B. Hunt Library is the meeting place at North Carolina State University, USA. The modernly designed and certified green building opened in January 2013. It stores more than 1.5 million volumes that are retrieved by a robot.

Modern designer library named after Governor

The new James B. Hunt Library is the meeting place at North Carolina State University's campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Behind the wavy facade is 20,500 sq m of space spread over four floors.

The ground floor's spacious interior features color accents in red, yellow and blue, and there is no shortage of designer furniture. The first sight to meet students and visitors is a three-story spiral-shaped LED screen broadcasting a rolling welcome message and numerous touch screens in all sizes.

The Commons interactive exhibition is part of the Institute for Emerging Issues, initiated by the former North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., for whom the library is named. The exhibition promotes learning and enables visitors to conduct research and even initiate new programs.

Books retrieved by robot

Hunt Library accommodates reading rooms, digital workstations, cafés and offices and, of course, books. At least 1.5 million volumes – mostly books but also other material – are stored in a computerized book repository with a maximum capacity of two million titles. Books are ordered on the Internet and retrieved by a book robot, known as a bookBot.

Project guided by university motto "Think and Do"

"Think and Do" is a guiding principle for the university. This motto also provided guidance for the design of the building's content and services. For example, the university engaged the help of some 20 of its students.

"We want the best imaginable environment for collaborative learning, so our students have participated in the development teams," says Susan K. Nutter, Vice Provost and Director of the Library. "This required both thinking and doing, and we did this in 'student-time', meaning within the same semester before they were moving on.

Letter of gratitude from Governor Hunt

The "Think and Do" approach was also a source of inspiration for Skanska in its efforts to create the living knowledge center that the university required. So the question is whether the company managed to meet expectations.

"We love Skanska," exclaims Anita R. Brown-Graham, Director of the Institute of Emerging Issues. "Everybody is so proud, and James B. Hunt Jr. has sent a personal letter of gratitude to all 2,000 people who participated in the project." (Read the letter in the right column.)

Certified green building project

The Hunt Library – certified to LEED Silver level, an international green building standard – was opened in January 2013. Skanska was responsible for the entire project execution, at a cost of USD 95.3 million.

Higher education market growing

The market for higher education continues to grow in the United States. The number of students in the country has grown by more than five million in a decade, and there will be about 2.4 million more in the next decade, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The higher education segment accounts for an increasing share of Skanska's U.S. operations. The figure has doubled in recent years. In 2012, the aggregate contract value in this sector was about USD 540 million. In the same year, a total of 41 construction contracts were signed with universities and colleges, 19 of which were public institutions, from Boston in the east to Portland in the west. 

The bookBot robotic book delivery system at work.

The lobby and almost 100 group study rooms are open for both students and the public.

Letter of gratitude

After completion of the project, James B. Hunt Jr. wrote a letter of gratitude to all people involved. 

Film: Hunt Library robot retrieving books

View short film on the book retrieving robot - the bookBot - at the Hunt Library.

Project in short:

Built by: Skanska USA Building
Client: North Carolina State University
Tenant: North Carolina State University & Institute for Emerging Issues
Contract: USD 95.3 M, approximately SEK 645 M
Construction period: Oct 2009–Oct 2012
Handover: Autumn 2012, opened in January 2013
Environmental data: LEED Silver 

More about the project

Find more project facts and images in our Projects section.