The Z. Smith Reynolds Library is getting ready for another summer of inconvenience as we prepare for a project that will provide a significant refresh to the building. The atrium that connects the Reynolds with the Wilson wing is going to see an upgrade to the area above our heads and under our feet. The ceiling panels installed over the atrium will be replaced, and the cork flooring in the atrium is likewise due for replacement.

Atrium showing both the floor and ceiling that will be replaced in Summer of 2024.
ZSR Library Atrium

While the contractors were together discussing the project on a chilly but clear day last week, I had the rare opportunity to go onto the roof of both the Reynolds wing and the Wilson wing as we discussed the project. I was able to get this rare glimpse of the ZSR Library cupola from the back, and up close!

ZSR Library cupola from the back
ZSR Library cupola from the back
ZSR Library cupola from the south side
ZSR Cupola from the (seldom photographed) south side

The photo also shows the condition of the panels that will be replaced. The panels, when new in 1991, were white and nearly translucent. The current panels from above look gray, and from below they look yellow. We expect the new white panels will bring more light into the atrium.

The project will require that scaffolding be installed while the panels are removed and new ones are installed. Once that job is completed, the flooring replacement will begin in earnest to have the atrium ready to unveil before students arrive in August. The new flooring product will be similar to what we have in front of the Library Services Desk, but the color will be somewhat darker and warmer, owing to the additional light coming in from above, and the east and west-facing windows. Access to the Wilson wing will not be prohibited, but will include a little more circuitous path, requiring those who enter from the Reynolds side to go up and across the elevated walk that flanks both ends of the atrium.

The temporary inconvenience of doing without the atrium for the summer will result in a more pleasant experience for those using the atrium next fall and for years to come. The ceiling replacement will begin soon after exams are completed this Spring semester.