By Andrew Bauld
Renovations beginning this spring will provide a vibrant new home in the John Crerar Library building for the Department of Computer Science and the Computation Institute. Included as well are renovated library spaces to provide a range of research services for faculty and students on campus. Combined, these efforts will transform the building into an exciting campus hub for collaboration, instruction, research and support, especially around computing and data science.
The work on the building’s top two floors, which began in March, will create a state-of-the-art academic space including closed and open offices, conference rooms, spaces for experimental research, graduate student offices and a large gathering area for departmental seminars, workshops and distinguished speaker lectures.
The design creates an interactive environment to support the collaborative integration of the Department of Computer Science with the Computation Institute and anticipates the changing needs of the department. Windows will be added to the building’s façade on the top floor and skylights to the roof in order to allow natural light into the deep floor plan.
On the first floor, the Computer Science Instructional Laboratory will be expanded to accommodate growing student interest and demand for Computer Science course offerings.
“We are building a modern space that invites and fosters collaboration,” said Michael Franklin, the Liew Family Chair of Computer Science. “Computing is increasingly impacting all aspects of our lives, and data science is becoming central to a growing number of disciplines. These new spaces will attract people to build a community around these crucial technologies.”
The first floor will continue to serve users of the John Crerar Library. A new services desk in the lobby will be a gateway to library research services and the collections remaining in the building. A café will be built as part of the renovated lobby to provide an energizing place for informal interactions. These alterations, together with collaborative spaces and teaching/seminar spaces, will make the first floor a focal point for faculty and students across the University interested in learning, experimenting and working with new software, technologies, and programs around data science such as geographic information systems or GIS; collaborating on innovative and emerging programs around data-driven discovery and digital media; and accessing information and research resources.
"The library’s newly renovated spaces will allow us to continue providing excellent services and be a leader in new, innovative programs around data science and data-driven discovery that will support faculty and students across the campus." said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian.
The library collections remaining in Crerar are located in high-density compact shelving on the lower level. Adjacent to the collections, in an area that receives natural light, a newly renovated space for quiet study, as well as group study rooms, will be created as part of the building project. Materials that have been relocated out of the building will continue to be available through the request feature in the Library’s online catalog.
The Department of Computer Science currently resides in the Ryerson Physical Laboratory building, and the Computation Institute is located in the Searle Chemistry Laboratory building. The scope of computing research and collaboration across campus has outgrown both spaces. The new Crerar project will help fulfill the University’s ambition of expanding and enhancing the Computer Science Department and creating opportunities for new and creative ways to engage and foster collaboration across different fields of research.
“We’ve planned this adaptive reuse project so that the entire campus can benefit from the changes at the Crerar Library,” said Executive Vice Provost Sian Beilock. “The renovation will help create inviting spaces and new opportunities for accessing and understanding information that bring students, faculty and staff together."
Illustration: Renovations in the Crerar Library building will create a state-of-the-art academic space for the Department of Computer Science and the Computation Institute. [Jennifer Fifield]