Library update: Fifth floor has no date of completion

Hunter East – Library entrance

While the fifth floor of the library has been closed to students since the beginning of this year, the CUNY Board of Trustees has yet to vote on the design plans and only the demolition has begun.

Construction won’t start in earnest until this fall at the earliest. That means students are without one of the few common spaces on campus, and the only place in the library that allows food, with no completion date set.

The other floors of the college library have been under construction for about two years and the updates include new couches, more outlets, interactive TVs and more space for students to study or hang out. From new, private rooms with tables to extra outlets for chargers, the third, sixth and seventh floor are cutting-edge additions to the Hunter campus. While the plan for the fifth floor is even more extensive, the college is just starting the process. It has, however, started demolition even though the budget is not approved, said a spokesman for the college.

“The Library 5th Floor design is complete and will now go to the CUNY Board of Trustees on April 15th for approval to begin construction,” said a Hunter spokesperson. “The project will go through a public bidding process and then construction is expected to start in the Fall of 2019. The design of the 4th Floor is to begin next.”

While many welcome the improvements, students are finding the delay a challenge.

“The library was already always crowded but since the fifth floor closed, other areas like the cafeteria are overcrowded,” said James Lee, 20, a junior. “I’m forced to find an off-campus spot where I can sit down and eat.”

Spatial Discipline, the architectural company revamping the library, has designed conference rooms, group study rooms, and even a refueling/coffee station.

The Floor Plan via Spatial Discipline

“The vision for this floor was developed in conjunction with Hunter College students, faculty and administrators in a series of workshops, interviews, feedback sessions, discussions, tours, and presentations,” explained the Spatial Discipline website. “One of the primary features of the fifth floor will be the single largest reading room in the library with open seating for over 150 students.” This space will “take advantage of natural daylight and feature campus views from windows on the west, north and east side of the floor.”

Students have some mixed feelings about the project, however. While they say it is nice to see the school being updated, it is difficult to find somewhere to study between classes.
“It’s hard to find somewhere to sit and be able to open all of my books,” said Jose Suarez, 20, a junior. “I could sit on the skywalk but it’s hard to use my books. I’d prefer a table, which is hard to find.”

The floor plan shows more study coves, rooms, and tables for students to study, the lack of which is a complaint students often have at Hunter.

“Other universities have libraries that actually have enough space for people to sit at their own desks,” said Hailey Rozenberg, a senior.

Some students notice that the over-crowding situation at Hunter has worsened since the construction began.

The “floor closed” sign in the library, 3rd floor.

“A lot of people are hanging out in spots that generally weren’t crowded before,” said Kylie Ionescu, 20, a junior. “Like the sky bridge on the seventh floor used to be completely empty and now when you go up, it’s filled with people sitting there eating or on the floor because there’s nowhere else to go.”

Some students grab a table in the mornings and have a strategy in place to keep their spot for the day.

“The only reason I have a seat is because, my friends take a table and we keep it for the entire day,” said Angela Lauria, 22, a senior. “At least one person is always at the table so we don’t lose it.”

Other students, however, are unbothered by the renovations. Some simply use the amenities, like the printers, which are still available on the other floors.

“I don’t go to the library unless I need to print stuff out,” said Kate Nakamura, 22, a senior.

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