Case Study

Corning Community College | 21st Century LIbrary Learning Commons

Corning Community College is located on Spencer Hill overlooking historic Corning, New York. The 550-acre campus is a complex of eight buildings plus an observatory, planetarium and a variety of off-campus sites. The college was experiencing a growing demand for collaborative student learning that could take place outside of the traditional classroom. Student needs and learning styles had changed dramatically over the years, and with the completion of the first residence hall on campus there was a clear need to provide a facility that could support the change from commuter college students to the new modes of a 24/7 student community. It was determined that this could be accomplished by combining the full resources of the Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Library with academic support services, instructional technologies, collaborative learning areas, and individual study spaces. The Library and Learning Commons project would be the centerpiece of the institution’s strategic commitment to improve student success, provide e-learning and maximize resources.


To achieve the goals of the project, the design team renovated the entire library and added a 7,800 sf addition to the quad face of the existing structure. The renovated and expanded space totals 33,800 sf and accommodates both the function of the traditional library and the newly centralized learning centers that now form the Learning Commons. The comprehensive Library & Learning Commons building provides a holistic approach to student learning outside of the classroom by accommodating both non-tutored (Library) and tutored (Learning Commons) study under one roof. Spaces are linked by a central entry that attracts students and supports social and collaborative activities; keeping the more independent and quiet activity at the building extremes. The Learning Commons entry includes a café, lobby, program space, and casual seating. Library collection needs have changed dramatically with an increasing emphasis on digital resources and reduction in print resources. Thus, space formerly dedicated to a portion of the physical collection was repurposed as student space. A centralized staffed desk for library circulation, reference, access services, and IT offers a welcoming presence and supportive entry experience.

The Learning Commons successfully consolidates all disciplines into a single, centralized “hub” with areas -- supported by the hub -- that are branded graphically to identify their specific discipline or mark a more fluid multidisciplinary area.

The project creates a new hub for 21st century student-centered learning and is a centerpiece of the college’s strategic commitment to improve student success, provide e-learning and maximize resources.

Contact Quay Thompson, AIA at 607-273-7600 ext 143 or for more information.