Kansas City Business Journal honors UMKC’s Miller Nichols Library and Student Union

Buildings receive 2011 Capstone Awards for Architectural Design

KANSAS CITY, MO. – The University of Missouri-Kansas City‘s (UMKC) Miller Nichols Library and Student Union each received a Kansas City Business Journal 2011 Capstone Award for Architectural Design. Now in its sixth year, the Capstone Award program honors outstanding real estate development projects and transactions throughout the Kansas City area. A panel of judges reviewed nominations and applications, considering visual aesthetics, new technological concepts and a project’s relevance to and effect on the community.

Miller Nichols Library and the Student Union will receive recognition in an April 29 Kansas City Business Journal supplement and at an awards luncheon on April 25. Sharon Bostick, Ph.D., dean of University Libraries, will accept Miller Nichols Library’s award and Paris Saunders, assistant vice chancellor for Student Auxiliary Services, will accept the Student Union’s award.

Dedicated in September of 2010, the Miller Nichols Library Robot Addition was constructed to house a robotic storage and retrieval system. Miller Nichols Library is the 17th academic library in North America to install such a system and the first in the region. Named “RooBot the robot” by a student vote, the robot eventually will house up to 80 percent of the library’s collection, freeing up space for student, researcher and community use. Though a significant portion of the collection will be stored in the retrieval system, more than 150,000 books, music recordings and other recorded materials will remain on open shelving and available for browsing.

Items stored in RooBot’s various-sized shelving and storage bins take up only about one-seventh of the floor space used by conventional open-stacked shelving. By constructing RooBot as an addition to the library’s existing structure, materials can be housed on-site and remain easily accessible. RooBot has been built to accommodate an additional 15 years of growth. Storage in the retrieval system is environmentally-friendly and secure.

The robot’s manufacturer, HK Systems, produced the following video to explain how the robot works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z9S6ER9Jyg.

On the west exterior of the Robot Addition, a 22 feet high and 49 feet wide bronze rendering of a 1926 Chamber of Commerce “Industrial and Railroad Map of Greater Kansas City” lights up at night. Designed by the architectural firms PGAV Architects and Sasaki Associates and constructed by Whiting Turner Construction, this work of public art is titled “Rivers, Rails, and Trails”. Dedicated in September of 2010, the perforated grill was built to protect the robot’s archives from sunlight and heat. From an observation window, visitors can watch RooBot move up and down the aisles, retrieving materials. The same map rendering decorates the library’s east wall, near Rockhill and 51st Streets.

Constructing the robot addition was an important step in plans to transform UMKC’s libraries into national models of excellence and innovation. Having the robotic storage system on site is freeing up much-needed space for students. Recent first-floor Miller Nichols Library renovations and additions include:

  • Nine new group study rooms
  • A presentation practice room
  • Lounge furniture
  • Twice as many computer stations
  • iX Theatre, a state-of-the-art theater space
  • A cafe and coffee bar

After opening in August of 2010, the 109,000-square-foot UMKC Student Union has provided more space for increasing enrollment and solidified West Campus as “the social core at UMKC”. Located near UMKC’s residential halls at 51st and Cherry Streets, the $38.3 million Student Union provides a solution for a student body that has outgrown the University Center. The Student Union houses a variety of student organizations, provides technology-rich study spaces and features striking views of the city UMKC engages through academic, research and service-work connections.

Designed to be LEED-certified, the Student Union features public transportation access, storm water control, natural lighting, skylights, high ceilings, a central stairway and a multipurpose area that is divisible into four rooms.

Following are additional features:

  • A food court with four dining venues chosen by students – Chick-fil-A Express, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, SubConnection and Jazzman’s Cafe & Bakery with a performance stage area
  • A two-story bookstore
  • 10,000 square-feet of space dedicated to student organizations
  • Jazzman’s Coffeehouse with performance stage area
  • A 329-seat theater
  • A 6,300-square-foot multi-purpose area
  • An atrium
  • A green roof terrace with views of the Country Club Plaza, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and UMKC’s Stanley H. Durwood Soccer Stadium and Recreational Field

The Student Union project was funded through $1 million in private funds, $500,000 in campus reserves and $36.8 million in revenue bonds. Students approved a student fee that will service the debt.

Using the design-build approach, McCownGordon worked with architecture firm Gould Evans to design and build a four-story student union. UMKC College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design alumni contributed to the design of the Student Union, as well.

The University Center, which was built in 1961 for a student population of 3,600, will continue to offer meeting space, dining services, a barber shop, campus information center and computer lab.

About UMKC Libraries

An essential partner in intellectual discovery, knowledge creation and empowerment, UMKC Libraries serves as the hub of learning activities for students, researchers and UMKC’s urban neighbors. Not only the home of books and print materials, the UMKC Libraries also provides access to a wide range of audio-visual media, over 300,000 sound recordings and rare and unique collections of books, photographs, manuscripts and maps. UMKC Libraries also links users to a world of scholarly information available through licensed online databases and journals and a vast network of reciprocal borrowing agreements with libraries around the world.

Miller Nichols Library, located on the Volker campus, is UMKC’s largest library and houses the general collection, Music/Media Library, LaBudde Special Collections and Marr Sound Archives. On the Health Sciences campus, the Dental Library and Health Sciences Library serve students and researchers in those disciplines. Along with its partners, the UMKC School of Law’s Leon E. Bloch Law Library and the Linda Hall Library, University Libraries is the comprehensive public research library for Kansas City and the very heart of UMKC.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit www.umkc.edu. You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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