Campus News

Libraries unveil plans to reinvent Lockwood, Abbott and more

A student sits on the stairs of Abbott Library on a summer day.

The UB Libraries' master plan calls for reopening the historic grand staircase of Abbott Hall on the South Campus. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published August 1, 2019

“By reimagining our current space, the Libraries Master Plan envisions a library that has the flexibility to address the evolving needs of the university community both today and in the future. ”
Elizabeth Adelman, interim vice provost for university libraries

A transformation could be coming to University Libraries.

The $7.2 million renovation of Silverman Library has inspired a master plan to reinvent UB’s campus libraries into technology-rich spaces tailored to educational experiences and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The plan calls for construction of a civic square in the Law Library where faculty and the public could engage in discourse; relocation of Special Collections to a prominently placed gallery in Abbott Hall that would feature UB’s unique collections and literary treasures; and several scholars’ labs that provide research support for faculty.

The projects aim to touch all five University Libraries facilities in Capen Hall, Lockwood Library, Abbott Hall, O’Brian Hall and Baird Hall, which receive more than 3.5 million visits annually and cover more than 300,000 square feet of space on the North and South campuses.

The master plan is aspirational and will guide short- and long-term library capital projects to transform the libraries — central to the university’s teaching, research and service missions — into an incubator for scholarship and a global gallery.

“By reimagining our current space, the Libraries Master Plan envisions a library that has the flexibility to address the evolving needs of the university community both today and in the future. I look forward to seeing this plan take shape as we move ahead,” says Elizabeth Adelman, interim vice provost for university libraries.

Renderings of some of the proposed projects in the UB Libraries' master plan. Images: UB Libraries

Reimagining what a library can be

Led by Pfeiffer Partners Architects and Foit Albert Associates, the Libraries Master Plan was completed with consultation from University Libraries leadership and a steering committee comprised of stakeholders from across UB, including faculty and senior staff. Workshops and focus groups were held to inform planning.

The master plan was motivated by the renovation of Silverman Library — UB’s only 24-hour library — into a state-of-the-art intellectual hub.

Completed in August 2016, the space includes high-tech classrooms, group study spaces with 80-inch monitors, video recording studios with editing suites, a grand reading room, a café and more. Silverman Library will inform the design of new library spaces.

Future renovations aim to establish a clearer University Libraries identity through construction of prominent entrances, consistent visual design across facilities and improved layout.

Next steps involve construction of new entrances to Silverman Library, completed in lockstep with UB’s Heart of the Campus initiative, and expansion of the Libraries Annex, a 16,000-square-foot, high-density storage facility that houses more than 1 million books and journals.

Plans for each University Libraries facility include:

Lockwood Library

The largest UB library in terms of square footage, Lockwood Library could become the “Library of the North Campus.”

The plan calls for construction of a central atrium that would provide the building with a new heart where library services, exhibits, and reader and instruction space are easily accessible. The atrium would also create a more identifiable main entrance to the library.

Special Collections would receive prominent exhibition space on the first floor for engagement with the UB community.

The Music Library will relocate to a new redesigned home on the fifth floor of Lockwood that is outfitted with reader space and soundproof rooms for listening. The library’s former space in Baird Hall will be converted into flexible classrooms.

The plan also calls for dispersing computing space across Lockwood and repurposing the “cybrary” into a scholars’ lab.

Abbott Hall

Home of the Health Sciences Library and Architecture and Planning Library, Abbott Hall would become the “Library of the South Campus.”

The Libraries Master Plan calls for reopening of the building’s historic grand staircase, the addition of a scholar’s lab and construction of a three-story expansion on the southeast side of the building.

Abbott Hall would become the new home of Special Collections, which houses The Poetry Collection, Rare and Special Books Collection, History of Medicine Collection and University Archives.

Special Collections would be prominently featured on the first floor of the building in a museum-like space that highlights the rich literary and historical materials found in the collections.

O’Brian Hall

The master plan calls for a new, prominent, first-floor entrance to the Law Library, as well as a grand reading room and civic square, which would provide the campus with an open space for lectures, conferences and informal use.

Capen Hall

As part of Heart of the Campus, Silverman Library will receive new entrances on three levels to accommodate construction of One World Café. With the potential relocation of Special Collections, the fourth floor could be converted to quiet study space.