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University of Alaska Anchorage/Alaska Pacific University Consortium Library
The UAA/APU Consortium Library was built to serve the two universities in 1973. The library, designed by Crittenden, Cassetta, and Cannon (CCC) with HOK, was one of the first buildings constructed on the eastern side of the campus and is situated roughly between original quad of buildings associated with the University of Alaska Anchorage and its neighbor to the east, Alaska Pacific University. This same firm also designed other notable buildings at the University of Alaska, including the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks and the Wells Fargo Sports Center in Anchorage.
University of Alaska Anchorage continued to expand through the 1980s and 1990s, quickly becoming the school's largest campus. University chancellor, Edward Lee Gorsuch, who served from 1994 through 2004, tirelessly championed the expansion and argued for renovating the library to serve a student body that numbered over fifteen thousand. In April 2002, workers broke ground on a $43.5 million renovation that transformed the library into a three-story modernized facility. Designed by Rim Architects of Anchorage and built by Cornerstone General Contractors, the new building added 109,000 square feet. The renovation and expansion were complete by the end of 2004 and included nineteen study rooms, a cafe, and updated classroom and meeting spaces. The design was notable for several reasons. Gorsuch and university leadership sought to move beyond the utilitarian design concepts of much of the rest of the campus. As a result, lead architect Aaron Joseph broke with the concrete, rectilinear form common among the campus architecture and instead proposed a serpentine, curvilinear wall that would face east and open to the Chugach Mountains and the Anchorage sunrise. The glass-covered wall slants up and draws the visitor towards the building. More practically, the eastern- and southern-facing spaces ensured more sunlight during Alaska’s dark fall and winters. The library’s exterior included a sixty-foot steel rooftop structure that has come to be called a “beacon of knowledge” and is visible throughout much of the campus.
The UAA/APU Consortium Library is now a focal point of the campus, in addition to being a widely used resource for the community. It houses archives and special collections with an emphasis on the Southcentral Alaska region. The Alaska Resources Library and Information Services (ARLIS) is also found within the library and contains documents related to Alaska’s government, politics, and culture. Aside from its special collections and archives, the library maintains over 700,000 titles in its collections and counts 12,000 visitors and patrons during a typical semester week. The library also hosts the world’s northernmost Foucault pendulum, a device that demonstrates the rotation of the planet over time.
Jacobs, W.A. Becoming UAA: 1954-2014, The Origins and Development of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Anchorage: University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014.
"New UAA Library has unique design feature." Alaska Journal of Commerce, May 2003.
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