Marshall University Architectural Guide
by Carlos Bozzoli, Architect
The John Deaver Drinko Academy

Drinko Library

View from East
Current use:
Main Library building. This facility melds a full range of traditional library services with state-of-the-art computer and advanced technological education facilities that in clude multimedia training and presentation rooms, workstations, distance education and computer carrels. It has study rooms, conference collaboration rooms, and an auditorium, and also houses offices of infor mation technology.
West side of campus, facing Hall Greer Boulevard, and developing eastward, between Old Main and Corbly Hall.
Perry Dean Rogers & Partners, from Bos ton, Mass. 1996-1998.
Named: for John Deaver Drinko, a Marshall graduate, philanthropist and strong supporter of higher education.

The present building occupies the space of an older one, the Northcott Hall, dedicated to Science, built in 1916, in Tudor style. Its main entrance has been conserved and it is included nowadays in the new Drinko Library Building, facing the Hal Greer Boulevard.
The scope of this building was a four story, 117,000 sq. foot facility housing a technologically advanced Library and Information Center and Campus Computing Services.

The Drinko Library is perhaps the most remarkable building at MU Campus. It has 5 stories, ground floor included, and its architectural expression is a typical product of the 1990’s decade, which echoes the whole discussion about contextualism, postmodernism and a refined pledge to model the interior space. As regards contextualism, the designers took into account the prevalent red brick masonry and stonework expression that characterizes the MU Campus inherited from the Old Main Building, the older one. To remember the Northcott building, just demolished to give room to the Drinko Library, designers have conserved the Tudor doorway entrance and nowadays appear as a huge window in the western side of the building.

In this part, two brick buttresses are referencing the Old Main entrance, with a column posed in its axis from the second floor upwards, a typical postmodern feature. The windows of the Western and northern sides are almost square, and divided in the same way as Old Main western façade. In the opposite side, looking east, the new building proposes a meaningful dialogue with the existing plaza, taking advantage of remarkable points of interest like the Marshall Statue, the Memorial Fountain, and the pedestrian paths that follows a complex pattern. The staircase appears as a transparent cylinder, with a glass skin, acting as a pivot where the other parts of the buildings are related. The eastern side has a rather complex façade, which uses a rectangular, stucco rendered surface with two rows of four square large windows, while the upper part plays the part of an attic, divided in four bays with five pairs of columns. The columns are not classical, but they are doing a masked reference to a classical order through the presence of a short, thin horizontal slab near the upper end of each pair of columns. These masked and hidden references to the classical orders are a common feature in the postmodern conception.

The different levels have been modeled with a keen sense of surrounding walls which plays with concave and convex surfaces, adding the effect of well shaped ceilings that guides the circulation paths in a soft, gentle manner. Every coin of the public spaces are used either as formal places to study or informal places to stay, read, or rest from the often strong intellectual efforts. The uses of different surfaces and renderings of materials are intending to provoke an intense, evident sense of comfort. Soften carpets and absorbing vertical surfaces provide silence and inhibit the visitor to make noise. Pastel colored surfaces are dominant and contributes to a peaceful milieu favoring intellectual work.The ground level is thoroughly designed at the outskirts of the Library. A covered walkway develops from the entrance, with a curved plan extending the welcoming, hospitable mood of the Library interior space to the visitor. The curved path echoes the circular, centered pattern of the Marshall Statue plaza, and establishes a well mannered relationship


of the building with the already existing environment. Several coins to stay with fixed seats and tables, provides a suitable exterior public furniture which invites to interact, talk and see other people, as it happens in the Mediterranean piazzas, a choice not often found in our cities.

The interior of the Drinko Library offers smooth, softly curved surfaces. Its colors are pastel, and all this produces a tranquil place, that invites to study and intellectual work