Program Design and Challenge

How do we envision a project to attract the next generation of learners within an inspiring academic and social environment? We do so by creating places that speak to each institution’s unique academic mission; supporting the need for a strong student community and undeniable sense of place. The Harriet Tubman Centennial E-Brary Learning Center Architecture Design Challenge seeks to answer questions about the architecture of higher learning, information, education and technology both in the Liberian and future global context. Promoters of this project assembled a team of intellectual resources of select Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), in collaboration with Liberian and Liberia-American professional architecture communities with creative and critical design solutions for the project.

Site and Context

The year 2013 marks the 100th Anniversary of the great emancipator, Harriet Tubman. Although born in enslavement in the State of Maryland, United States of America, and denied education, her commitment and determination led hundreds of enslaved persons to freedom. Therefore, the TU Foundation commemorates the life of Harriet Tubman with the Harriet Tubman Architectural Design Challenge & Project involving Howard, Morgan State and Tuskegee Universities. After the Challenge, the selected schematic design shall be used to construct a facility with a combination of American, African Universities and professionals in the quest for knowledge; fostering relationships that are transformational for students, professionals and communities across the globe.
It is not an exaggeration to state that this Project could become a model for international cooperation between Africans and African-Americans. Tubman University would like to see ideas that embrace the African nature of the University while incorporating a U.S. and futuristic world vision in the design of what is to be far more than a “library”.

The facility shall be a learning and information center for the campus and community at large. Space must be provided for students as well as community gatherings and brainstorming. In addition to quiet areas, there should be provision for social interaction, networking; the traditional “Palava Hut” style setting; a place where communication and problem resolution occurs. A portion of the Center shall be devoted to digital technology. In addition, the design shall incorporate TU’s current nexus of focus for future projects: renewable energy, agriculture and technology. Connecting all of these is TU’s commitment to internationalization and the entrepreneurial spirit to produce empowered global citizens.

E-Brary Concept and Program

E-brary is a platform that provides online access to textbooks and other reference materials in a digital format on site. Areas in the E-brary facility would include multiple internet computer labs for different subject areas with space for downloading, printing and/or copying within the lab; an interactive digital window wall to perform internet searches about books, data and authors or creative citations to the publications; management and maintenance staff offices; computer and server hardware service area; storage and building support areas. The facility may also include an E-brary Shop for the sale and/or rental of laptops, and other digital accessories.

Environmental climate control is paramount. Computers and servers have different environmental requirements for people. The hardware must be protected from light, heat and moisture with a dry bulb temperature different from people-occupied spaces. Back-up servers must be archived within a magnetically sealed area.

Learning Center

To encourage utilization of the E-brary, spaces and areas that work to complement the E-brary must be available; such as a Learning Center component that consists of study areas and more social spaces.  Included in the facility also should be study areas with varied types of seating; video/Skype conferencing, meeting and exhibit spaces, auditoriums, multi-media recording and broadcasting studios, and a wired lounge or café. The E-brary and Learning Center facility must integrate into the evolving fabric of the campus with a dynamic contemporary building of forms and shapes respectful of the Liberian/African Heritage. The entrance should orientate you to all that the facility may have to offer the public with an information/reception area for assistance.



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