WKU hosting a beam raising to commemorate the halfway point of construction on Commons at Helm Library

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Construction on the new Helm Library at Western Kentucky University has hit the halfway point and Wednesday, university officials commemorated the occasion.

A beam, weighing nearly 1,500 pounds that is the largest of several support beams lining the west wall and supporting the third floor of what will become the Commons at Helm Library was signed by university officials and others and raised.

What was once a basketball arena then a library is now in the process of becoming an area for schoolwork, eating, reading and socializing.

Wednesday afternoon, the 24-foot-long support beam was lifted into place in the 86-year-old iconic building.

The beam was first signed by Bob Skipper, President Timothy Caboni and more.

“I hope their lives are transformed by the conversations that they have in this building. This is not about a physical structure. This is about creating a place at the top of the hill for our faculty, staff and students to gather together to engage deeply. To have difficult and meaningful conversations,” Caboni said.

The old building had no windows, but the remodel will feature a façade full of windows according to David Broz, a Gensler principal and architect.

“The original structure was about looking in because it was a sporting venue. So, it made complete sense that it was a solid façade and that you couldn’t see inside until got inside to see the action. But now that it is a library, it really had to turn inside out. So those windows became a critical part to meet the committees design vision,” Broz said.

“I think it is going to be a place where folks can gather. There will be obviously food in there, a coffee bar, but more importantly, it’s going to be about conversation space. How do we bring our community together to share ideas, to challenge one another and not do it in our typical environments? So, we were able, really, to transform a building that is central to who we are as a university and create a common space for our entire community to come together as one,” said Caboni.

The new design adds multi-function social spaces for students and faculty to use according to Aric Andrew, the president and CEO of Luckett and Farley.

“This is going to be really a new example of a library. So, we are going to bring together a lot of elements. There will be a food component, obviously there will be components of a library, a lot of collaboration space as well as classrooms and we think this is really the new model for the library for institutions across the nation,” said Andrew.

The $35 million-dollar, 85,000-square foot project is expected to be completed before the fall 2021 semester begins.