Clark Nexsen endeavored to create an inspired architectural solution deserving of a library for the study of the performing arts. Semans Library at The University of North Carolina – School of the Arts not only accommodates the programmatic hurdles encountered by a thriving university program, but also establishes itself as a cultural focal point reflective of the progressive campus community. Situated at the highest point on the campus, the library breaks open and links the existing campus fabric to planned future growth. Campus paths are thoughtfully integrated into the design providing areas for students to gather along the main plaza stair and plaza. The grand plaza stairs, complete with seating and laptop connections, link the lower portion of campus with the upper campus and provide students with ample opportunity to people watch, gather with friends, and meet with professors. The relationship of the stairs and the plaza provide an amphitheater-like experience encouraging impromptu student performances.
The form of the building is a responsive solution to a challenging and highly visible site. The form breaks open to create not only outdoor plaza space but to allow for vistas of the surrounding campus and downtown Winston-Salem from within. Internally, casual study and reading spaces line the glass curtainwall. Strategically placed solar fins protect visitors from the otherwise harsh western sun and provide naturally lit and inviting internal spaces.
The facility houses a vast collection of visual and performance art material including print media, audio recordings, and film. Variations of study spaces throughout provide opportunities for listening and viewing performance collections as well as spaces for traditional study and student/teacher interaction.