Reading Room with a viewpoint
Take a tour of UTS Central with one of the people who took it from vision to reality.
As a postgraduate architecture student, Richard Francis-Jones spent a lot of time poring over his university’s reference books.
“I did my master’s at Columbia University in New York and I spent so much of my time in the library. It was the library during the day and the studio at night,” said Francis-Jones.
“I think libraries are such an important part of student life.”
Now design director of FJMT, Francis-Jones has helped to bring a new library to life in the newly opened UTS Central, which is home to the UTS Reading Room and Blake Library.
It’s easier for us to study and focus when we are in the company of others. There is a sense of camaraderie – when you are going through the hell of pre-exam study together, it is energising and empowering.
Design Director, FJMT
The Reading Room in particular is a part of the UTS Central project that is close to Francis-Jones’s heart.
“Great reading rooms and great libraries have always been at the heart of leading universities. The UTS Central Reading Room is part of this tradition but in a 21st-century form – its primary purpose is for quiet, individual study, but together,” he says.
“It’s easier for us to study and focus when we are in the company of others. There is a sense of camaraderie – when you are going through the hell of pre-exam study together, it is energising and empowering. You’re with people doing the same thing, you’re in it together and that feels really good.”
UTS Central opened its doors to students, staff and visitors on Monday August 19. In the final countdown to the launch, Francis-Jones was an enthusiastic tour guide for a project he calls “a career highlight”. This is architecture that “shakes you up a bit”, he said. “It’s full of surprises and encourages discovery, much like learning does.”
There is the overall premise in which traditional university design – buildings linked by courtyards, quadrangles and open spaces – is flipped on its side to create a vertical campus.
Courtyards and open spaces are dotted throughout the 17-storey building, movement is via a ‘street’ of escalators and playful staircases – a double helix stair that pays tribute to science and discovery and a sculptural stair with echoes of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts – and filtered sunlight floods every floor.
- A Reading Room with three-storey atrium, overlooking Alumni Green
- The UTS Blake Library, occupying levels 7 to 9 and boasting a direct connection to the automated library retrieval system beneath Alumni Green
- The Hive Superlab, a science laboratory able to accommodate up to 270 students working together or in small groups, with up to seven distinct classes running at any one time
- Customised 350-seat collaborative theatres, where technology creates a dynamic space for students to exchange ideas and learn
- A research scholars’ centre and research support hub
- Facilities for the Faculty of Engineering and IT
- New premises for the Faculty of Law, including a Moot Court and trial courts
- Food court and terrace café/restaurant.
Francis-Jones is excited to see what students and staff make of this new addition to their campus.
“The rich and stimulating experience of being on campus is one of the most essential for students and staff, it lasts a lifetime,” he says.
“This is a building that is open, welcoming and transparent, it is an architecture inspired by the progressive and innovative spirt of UTS and I hope it reflects the values, aspirations and ambitions of this great university.”