Homer Babbidge Library, sitting at the heart of the University of Connecticut Storrs Campus is due for renovations. Built in 1978, the brick building has slowly expanded its seating capacity as the campus population has grown over the last 43 years. In 2015, however, a multi-phased plan to renovate the building was born.
For the contractors to increase the library’s seating capacity and make arrangements to the inside, a new exit had to be constructed to maintain safety protocol. This led to the creation of this seemingly out of place, enclosed staircase on the exterior south side of the library.
Although some students believe the design and color scheme seem odd against the brick walls, there was clever reasoning behind the chosen material and color pattern.
“It was one of the least expensive ways to do it…They did try and make it look similar to a lot of the other newer buildings on campus,” said Jean Nelson, head of communications and engagement within the library. “The intention is to take that color scheme and sort of incorporate it into the floors themselves a little better.”
On the exterior of the stairwell are five colored, vertical lines that start at the ground level: red, followed by orange, green, blue and yellow on the top floor. Eventually, the ground level will have red accents within the signage as well as some red incorporated into the tiles and carpets. The same will occur for each of the following floors as their interior begins to coincide with the color on the exterior addition.
Nelson said they considered using the ground level of Homer Babbidge Library to act as an area students can pass through, rather than walking around the building, to get to various places on campus — since the library sits almost at its center. Any additional furnishings to the library will occur on the interior, and not the exterior, such as the new floors.
“The staircase was definitely not the end all. The staircase was sort of the first step, which will allow us to make other changes,” Nelson said.
Some UConn students aren’t very aren’t very content with the outcome. On the UConn Buy or Sell Facebook page, several UConn community members said that the addition appeared to be out of place and they felt as if the University could have spent that money elsewhere on more pressing matters on campus.
“Not only does it look super weird, it’s a waste of money we don’t have,” said Kaitlynn Styles, a fourth-semester, history major. She added that had the staircase matched the brick building, it would not be so out of place.
Although many students are frustrated with the idea that UConn must have spent so much money on this stairwell, it was in fact done in the cheapest way possible.
With little funding from the start, the additions to the library are at a standstill. The initial funds given for the renovations to the University were used for the new stairwell on the south side of Homer Babbidge. As of right now, UConn’s project managers can only wait and hope that funding will soon come their way to remodel the interior of the building.