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Duvall Decker Architects

Duvall Decker Architects

Jackson, MS

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Northwest facade/main entry. A former intense fortress is transformed into an inviting library with corner bay reading rooms and new entry/coffee shop porch.
Northwest facade/main entry. A former intense fortress is transformed into an inviting library with corner bay reading rooms and new entry/coffee shop porch.
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James H. White Library Renovations, Mississippi Valley State University

Complete renovation of the existing Mississippi Valley State University library to invigorate the campus center and create a hub for academic and social life. 

In the hot, flat Mississippi Delta, space can only be held temporarily. The vista pulls. Providing pause requires a special kind of anchoring.  Like a group of pasture trees making a cool, shady perimeter and a deep interior, the project creates in-between space around its periphery, while protecting a contemplative interior.

While the original James H. White Library has durably and functionally housed the collections, it has fallen short in its contribution to the quality of student and campus life. Located in the exact center of campus, its brutal and relatively solid exterior left the significant green spaces on all sides feeling isolated.  The bi-axially symmetrical and imposing building occupied that center with a cold and stagnant stance that begged for transformation.  Mississippi Valley State University is a historically black university in an economically depressed region. Funds were limited. Transformation required strategic and limited interventions. 

Vertical strokes break the rigidity of horizontal lines and distribute energy around the previously static facades. These new two-story light bays open the building to the campus, creating corner reading rooms, inviting students in to study and learn and bring indirect natural light into the library center. 

The library stacks occupy the shady building center on both floors. Here occupants and collections are enclosed but also drawn out to open corner reading rooms. Information and research kiosks are dropped into this center and bridge the scale between library patrons and the building-at-large.  Cellular inner service buildings protect and surround while the light-filled corner reading rooms beckon.  

 
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Status: Built
Location: Itta Bena, MS, US
Firm Role: Architect

 
New cast-in-place concrete porch at main entrance becomes the campus
New cast-in-place concrete porch at main entrance becomes the campus
Inner stack court at main entrance and circulation desk. Reflective ground face masonry walls carry the reflected light from the corner reading rooms deep into the interior.
Inner stack court at main entrance and circulation desk. Reflective ground face masonry walls carry the reflected light from the corner reading rooms deep into the interior.
Light is borrowed from space to space.
Light is borrowed from space to space.
The new Library with visible activity is now a lantern at the center of campus.
The new Library with visible activity is now a lantern at the center of campus.