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Convergence: (n.) the state of coming together and
uniting in a common interest or focus


Increasingly we are working on projects where our clients are interested in bringing historically distinct functions with separate facilities into close proximity. The issues and possibilities we’ve studied recently include:

  • Adding “productive lounge space” (also called interaction or collaboration space) throughout all other facility types: classroom, lab, campus center, residential, athletic, administrative, research.
  • Merging campus center and library facilities
  • Libraries and maker space
  • Libraries and café
  • Student residential and hotel
  • Student residential and student commons
  • Student residential and retail spaces
  • Residential and classroom/academic space
  • Residential and maker space
  • Residential and athletic
  • Athletic and food service
  • Athletic and study

Student Housing and Athletics / Adams State University, Alamosa, CO


These converging facility types raise exciting possibilities as well as their fair share of challenges. Some are new combinations, some involve relatively new space types, some like lounge space have been common, and the renewed focus is one of extent.  Some have been around for years, ie. student housing and retail; mixed use projects that have advanced as P3 projects have become more popular.

Student Dining - Game Day Concession / Adams State University, Alamosa, CO

Perhaps one of the combinations most emblematic of recent trends is the merging of the library with other uses. The reasons for clustering activity at the library include:

  • Taking advantage of the library’s magnetism to attract traffic to new strategic initiatives.

  • Conversely, at institutions that have not had strong library-using cultures, take advantage of newly vacant space made available through weeding the collection to increase the draw to the library and make more effective use of this space.

  • Provide students, whose preferences and previous educational, retail, and domestic experience reflect their expectations for the ability to engage in multiple experiences and interactions simultaneously, a space that supports this multifunctional approach to college life.


The combinations of residential facilities with other uses such as classrooms and maker spaces, is a long-standing trend to provide rich and educationally-oriented environments for students outside of the classroom and lab. Living/learning programs are probably the most fully-developed of these approaches.

Student Housing and Athletics / Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Student Housing and Athletics / Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI


Likewise, there’s nothing especially new in integrating student housing with athletic facilities, as institutions have offered student-athletes a housing option they might prefer. But as the nature of residential facilities evolves it provides an opportunity to change the nature and perception of campus athletic zones, extending campus life and academic facilities to these areas.


Schumann Library & Learning Center, Beatty Hall /
Wentworth Institutute of Technology, Boston, MA

Of course, the colocation of library and campus center is not unheard of, in fact there are several of these facilities in Massachusetts alone. Examples exist at Fitchburg State University’s Hammond Building, Westfield State University’s Ely Building, Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Beatty Hall. In each of these buildings, the library is strictly separated from the other building components. What we are seeing in the recent wave of interest in bringing these core campus facilities together is not simple proximity, but integration. This interest is facilitated by the changing nature of the library, the reduced scale of library collections and the emphasis by librarians on interactive learning over individual quiet study and student comfort that extends to allowing food and drink in the library. After all, with this (no longer) revolutionary approach, how different is a library reading room from a campus center student lounge, or a library group study room from a campus center small meeting space or student org office?

Flanagan Campus Center, Beatty Hall /
Wentworth Institutute of Technology, Boston, MA


If this integration becomes a trend, it will rely on smart adjacency planning to enhance collaboration and synergistic activity, careful acoustical strategies to control noise and clever technologies to protect collections and facilitate a wide range of events and day-to-day routines.


I’ve listed a handful of combined (but not fully integrated) library/ campus buildings here in Massachusetts. It would be interesting to hear from you about similar or more integrated examples. Let us know of examples of these hybrid facilities you are familiar with and how they are contributing to campus life and learning. Please click here and give us your feedback.

George Mathey





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