Library with a view: ambience, capacity get major boost with move to Student Union

April 26, 2013 / by / 1 Comment

By Bob Romantic
GCU Today Magazine

As a Grand Canyon University commuter student, Daniel Harned often finds his way to Fleming Library to work on his homework.

“I like it here because it’s quiet and I can concentrate better,” said Harned, a sophomore from Chandler. “But in the afternoon, it gets really packed in here.”

The upgraded Student Union will host the ground campus library, in addition to a Starbucks and lots of space for students to spread out. (Renderings courtesy of Architects & Planners International)

The good news for Harned: The library is about to double in size as it moves from its current building near the entrance to GCU to the third and fourth floors of the new Student Union expansion.

The bad news: The new library, with its arena-like architecture, glass facade and location at the heart of campus, is sure to attract many more students with the same idea as Harned.

“We’re very excited about the location,” said Nita Mailander, director of library services at GCU. “Hopefully the library will be seen as a gathering space for students and faculty.”

The four-story, 58,000-square-foot addition to the Student Union is the latest in a $300 million renovation and expansion project at the University. Two more residence halls and a second swimming pool also will be completed before the 2013-14 school year, when enrollment is expected to increase to 8,500.

“It’s going to be very cool,” Butch Glispie, owner of Pono Construction, said of the Union expansion. “There will be a lot of glass, a lot of block. There will be some spectacular views from both inside and out.”

The four-story expansion will be built on the north side of the existing dining hall.

The first floor will be an extension of the current Student Union dining area and is targeted for completion by Aug. 15. Remaining floors probably will be completed in subsequent months.

The second floor will include a large Starbucks coffee shop, seating area and balcony.

Floor plans for the library were still being designed in early April, but Mailander said the third floor probably would include more dynamic spaces featuring computer stations and places for group study, while the fourth floor would offer spaces for individual quiet study.

Combined, that will be 29,000 square feet of library space.

Fleming Library has just 9,000 square feet on the first floor, plus office space on the second floor. It can seat about 100 people, including 37 computer stations.

“This building is wonderful and it’s historic,” Mailander said of Fleming, “but it’s just not enough space. As the campus grows, we really need the extra seating.”

During the first quarter of 2012, an average of 5,797 people per month used the library. That jumped to 8,131 per month in the first quarter of 2013.

With even more new students next year and a more modern, open space to call home, Mailander said the number of library users “is going to go through the roof.”

Marissa Bibian, a sophomore from Los Angeles, will be one of them.

“The new building is just awesome. I’ll use it a lot more,” Bibian said. “There’s more room and the windows with all the natural light, it will be much more inviting. The glass walls will make it seem like you can see all of GCU.”

Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or

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One Response
  1. miranda woodward

    Do they know what they are going to do with the library? Are they going to repurpose the building or are they tearing it down? I hope they reuse it, sad to see our campus landmarks slowly disappearing.

    May.09.2013 at 12:47 pm
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