Renovation and expansion of Randall Library planned


Clark Nexsen | UNCW

A visual design of Randall Library following renovations.

Tyler Newman, Assistant News Editor

Randall Library, UNC Wilmington’s only library, is set to undergo a physical overhaul in the coming years that involves renovating the old and expanding the new.

The 169,000 square foot repository of knowledge, study space, archives and office space extends its vast footprint of building space across UNCW’s Campus Commons, visible from many portions of campus’ west side.

In mid-late 2018, information was made available regarding UNCW’s planned renovation and expansion of the library and surrounding space. A few months later in January 2019, news updates were posted on Randall Library’s official webpage.

The North Carolina General Assembly provided UNCW with a $5.5 million grant to renovate the library with the “latest technology and services.” The library renovation will be designed by Clark Nexsen of Raleigh, N.C., according to the UNCW Office of Facilities.

The last time that Randall Library received a renovation was in 1986, when UNCW had an undergraduate population of only 5,000 students, according to the library’s webpage. For comparison, the current enrollment numbers for the 2018-2019 academic year are estimated around 16,747.

The project as a whole will include a 40,000 square foot expansion to the library, as well as a renovation of the existing space to provide necessary program areas, modernize the current facility and meet the needs of students and faculty.

“The scope of work includes the redesign and replacement of the mechanical, electrical, data, phone, and plumbing systems of the existing building, as well as replacing windows and all finished surfaces.  It is anticipated that the expansion space will include student study and collaboration spaces as well as offices, classrooms and food service. Food service space will be provided as shell space under this project,” according to the UNCW Office of Facilities.

University Librarian Lucy Holman stated that the new updates to the library will shift the focus to more open spaces, flexibility and ease of service.

“As student learning and working styles continually evolve, our libraries must adapt quickly to student needs,” Holman said. “The new Randall Library will be a model of ‘learning on display.’ We know the libraries of 2030 and 2050 will be vastly different from the library we build in 2020, and we believe we are designing a building that will serve students well when it opens and will adapt to each new generation of students for the foreseeable future.”

The facade of Randall Library, facing Campus Commons.

It is estimated that the $5.5 million grant from the N.C. General Assembly will help to fund the design process of the project. The eventual capital improvement project will “require separate appropriation and/or philanthropic support from the Seahawk community.” Or in other words, donations.

$61.8 million is the current anticipated budget by the UNCW Office of Facilities webpage for the project.

Two student feedback fairs were held on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24. Architects from Clark Nexsen as well as consultants from Brightspot Strategy engaged students at two locations over the two days, Fisher Student Union’s Town Square and the first floor of Randall Library respectively. UNCW has stated that student feedback is “vital to the design process.”

Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli has also conveyed a statement on the upcoming renovation to Randall Library.

“For 50 years, Randall Library has played an essential role in supporting teaching, research and community engagement at UNCW,” Sartarelli said. “Thanks to generous support from the General Assembly, we have the opportunity to design the Randall Library of the future, creating a space where people, ideas, information and technology will connect in innovative ways.”

The project’s estimated completion date is Fall 2022.

Tyler Newman can be found on Twitter @tnewman39.