Case Study

Barbara J. Burger iZone in Rush Rhees LIbrary

What was HOLT asked to do by the client?

University of Rochester asked our team to help them transform a 7,000 sf space in the historic Rush Rhees Library into a visionary center of innovation knowledge creation to help facilitate innovation and germination of ideas and concepts.

What were the agreed goals of the project?

Design an exciting space to support the exploration of student ideas and ambitions for social, community and economic impact.

Allow for flexible space reconfiguration to sup-port the diversity of programs to help students build skills, access tools and resources, get advice, attend workshops and connect with a community of collaborators.

Encourage the formation of interdisciplinary networking to promote synergistic interactions and crossovers.

Incorporate technologies necessary to support the program.

Provide comfortable and contemporary furnishings to support the student study / life styles.

How did the project address these goals?

An amphitheater was created with step-seating for showcase events that is visible both within the iZone and to passersby.

Mezzanine space was developed specifically for collaborative activities.

Visually magnetic Idea Booths support both small group meetings and quiet individual work.

There are virtually no doors throughout, supporting the philosophy of being an open, collaborative, and accessible space.

State-of-the-art technology is available every-where, including air media / screen projection using WiFi.

The entire space is ADA accessible.

How did you address the design problem(s)?

The team overcame the challenge of low ceilings and poor lighting in the existing space by using stacked booth seating that neutralized the visual impact of the low ceilings all the while providing popular booth seating for teamwork.

Lighting, color, and furniture punctuate the functional design, creating a balance of the professional and playful that set the tone for the innovative space.

In order to address the program, as well as the scale issue given the low ceilings, an amphitheatre of stepped seating and idea booths were used. A wall of Idea Booths created a cellular space breaking up a previously flat area. A 1.5 story glass wall also helps breaks down the scale of the existing spaces.

How does the architecture of your project affect the community?

The iZone is a visual, academic and culturally stimulating space where University of Rochester students go to engage, explore and imagine ideas for social, community and economic impact.Its suite of diverse and specialized spaces are optimized architecturally to inspire imagination, catalyze ideas, and promote innovation within the walls of the most iconic and historic building on campus, the Rush Rhees Library.

This state-of-the-art “gem” on the University of Rochester campus elevates the campus’ profile and the student experience. It is attracting new students and faculty, and helps promote the campus in academic, business and library journals nationwide.

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