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A place to come together

Salem State University,
Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons
Salem, MA

Since opening its doors in 2013, the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons at Salem State University has become a major destination where students, faculty, and community come together to learn, collaborate, and connect.
High-performance curtain wall façades allow natural light to illuminate the reading and seating areas along the north and east-facing portions of the building.
The Library’s orientation takes advantage of a largely unused central space to form an outdoor quad, as well as a route joining the upper and lower levels of campus. Walls of north-facing glass and the sky-lit central atrium welcome daylight into gathering areas and create inviting places that attract learners from every corner of the university.

“It’s very different from other libraries I’ve worked in that were built in the 70s, 80s, 90s, that were built first for the books, then for the people.”

Susan Cirillo, former dean of library, Salem State University
The central skylight floods all three floors with natural light, creating a natural wayfinding experience and opportunities for intimate human connections despite the large scale of the library.
Reducing the carbon footprint of the library was a key design consideration. A vertical closed-loop geothermal system and fritted windows protect against solar heat gain. An automated system controls light based on occupancy and available daylight.
The building’s signature red staircase invites visitors to explore the library’s upper levels.