November 10th, 2018
Thode Library at McMaster University
Our 2016 renovation of the H.G. Thode Library at McMaster University, a lower level Master Plan, 2,000 SF renovation and incorporation of a maker space, is representative of the changing nature of library environments. The library dedicated to the University’s Engineering Department, was challenged by a lack of views, natural light and required mechanical upgrades. The end result has big impact. Filled with light, the design opened up an adaptable area where entrepreneurs, students and the engineering department converge, including the maker space which is focused on hands-on learning, experimentation and design.
Maintaining the visual connections throughout the space was a priority and allowed us to foster a sense of curiosity and interest in the activities that go on in the maker space, as well as creating a safe environment. At the entry, full height frame-less glass marks the entrance while glazing from counter height maintains visual connections and efficient use.
Though the technology for a maker space will continually evolve, the space is designed to accommodate changes in equipment and to evolve with student driven uses. We accommodated a wide range of uses and needs through a variety of seating such as lounge, study benches, tall tables and workbenches, all with close proximity to electrical connections. Workbenches at the perimeter of walls are fed through the half-height walls, while the tall tables in the open collaborative area would need to be fixed to enable power supply.
Because the maker space is designed to include a wide variety of students who may not have traditionally felt welcome in a shop environment, the materials and transparency help to minimize both physical and perceptual boundaries. Care was taken to provide a barrier-free environment through seating options and design of storage solutions.
We located the graduate student areas just outside the maker space, creating an open study area, further reinforcing the culture of the inclusive space, in the spirit of empowering a broad cross-section of the student body to use the facility.