Cruzen-Murray Library

An Intellectual Commons

Located at the terminus of a prominent roadway into the city of Caldwell, Idaho, the Cruzen-Murray library serves as gateway building for the College of Idaho campus and a leading example of the evolution of the twenty-first century library. The building’s elliptical form promotes sightlines into the historical quad, responds to pedestrian desire lines through campus, and relieves the tension formed by the collision of the rational automobile transportation grid with the historical railway grid. The library features 60,000 square feet of enclosed floor area over three levels and will replace the existing Terteling library.

The sustainable design approach uses both passive and active measures to mitigate the large daily temperature swings common in southwest Idaho's arid high desert climate. The exterior envelope features a vertically expressed aluminum curtain wall veiled by a spiraling array of perforated weathering steel shade fins. The tensioned shade fins are suspended below a deeply overhanging tongue-and-groove cedar soffit. Each perimeter fin is individually oriented to invite direct natural light into the interior spaces at the appropriate times of the year and throughout each day. The fins shade the building during the hot summer months greatly reducing solar heat gain during times of the year in which outside temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

A geothermal ground source heat pump system significantly reduces life-cycle operating costs and extends the expected mechanical system life. Conditioned air is distributed throughout the library via a pressurized raised floor plenum which also provides flexibility for future technology and pedagogical needs within the open floor plan. A perimeter radiant heating system provides warm air directly adjacent to the exterior glazing and initiates a natural convective cycle within the interior space as the heated air rises against the adjacent glazing and returns to the building’s core via the ceiling and roof plenum. These sustainable design solutions are expected to reduce the library’s energy consumption by 68% compared to current energy code requirements.

The library’s main entrance at the ground level is located on the west side of the building. The exterior shade fins spiral around the elliptical shape, rising and bifurcating at the entry to invite visitors to the interior space. A gently curving sculptural stair leading visitors to the large reading room placed on the second floor overlooking the two-story entry. The convex cedar roof floats above users at the second level and extends outside to become an exterior soffit. In the evening, the library acts as a softly glowing lantern on campus, lit from within via the warmly expressed wood ceiling.

A terraced landscaped amphitheater providing access to the twenty-four/seven library area located at the lower plaza level.

Interior spaces are arranged with public, social spaces on the west (facing the existing campus and quadrangle), and quiet study and individual spaces primarily placed on the east. The book stacks are arrayed along the eastern edge of the building on the ground and second levels. A central “core” houses classroom and office spaces and serves as a hub for vertical circulation at the library’s center. The building’s second primary staircase is placed here, adjacent to the prominently displayed collection of Imari porcelain (donated by the library’s benefactors). The library’s interior finishes reflect a simple but sophisticated material palette influenced by the local Idaho materials and furniture selections reinforce moments for casual dialogue and enhanced meeting spaces.