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GVSU - Mary Idema Pew Library

A library that flexes to the needs of the students

  • Allendale, Michigan

    Allendale, Michigan

Designing a library that is more than the norm

Grand Valley State University (GVSU) envisioned a library that was inspired by the needs of today’s students and the evolving skills they would require for the rest of their lives. Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons—a true shift in library creation—is designed to connect the library more closely to student learning and success. So how do we design a library that meets the need for browsable materials with a desirable study and collaboration space?

At a Glance


Picture students researching

Wherever they are in the library—or all over the campus—when they need to grab a book, they can look it up in the online catalogue and request it from the library’s Automated Storage and Retrieval System.

The face of the learning commons

The building is sheathed in natural stonework, echoing a deep appreciation for Grand Valley’s architectural context. The stone rebuilds the lost characteristics of the location: a once heavily wooded site cascading through deep ravines to the banks of the Grand River. With a 40-foot glass curtain wall, the library looks out onto the campus—and the campus looks back inside. During the day, the building is filled with natural light through the massive windows and a number of punched windows on other exterior walls. At night, the building becomes a beacon, a transparent hive of activity that draws users inside.
A true shift in library creation
Book capacity
Spaces lit by daylight

Every student can find the right spot for themselves with over 31 different types of indoor or outdoor seating
Automated storage and retrieval system can deliver a resource in under a minute
One of the many strategies that turned the building to its site and helped the library achieve LEED Platinum

Supporting learning when class is over?

The Mary Idema Pew Library is the answer. The building’s student and user-focused design provides an assortment of learning, collaboration, and social interaction spaces to respond to the needs of today’s student.

Meet Our Team

Joe Lapinski, Senior Associate

None of my inventions ever came about by accident, they came about by work – Thomas Edison

Patrick Calhoun, Senior Associate, Business Center Operations Leader, Senior Planner

In educational building design, you like hearing how your design positively impacts students. When you extrapolate out to future generations, that experience is both joyful and humbling.
Patrick Calhoun Senior Associate, Business Center Operations Leader, Senior Planner Read More

Casimir Zalewski, Principal, Buildings

It is my goal to tailor a system that is reliable, maintainable, and efficient that folds into the architecture of the project.

Steve Jelinek, Senior Associate, Senior Designer

I believe in enhancing the human experience—I just happen to practice architecture.
Steve Jelinek Senior Associate, Senior Designer Read More

Joe Lapinski

Senior Associate

Patrick Calhoun

Senior Associate, Business Center Operations Leader, Senior Planner

Casimir Zalewski

Principal, Buildings

Steve Jelinek

Senior Associate, Senior Designer

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