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100. Mudd Learning Center (1974- ); Academic Commons (2007- )

The major purpose of the Seeley G. Mudd Learning Center is to provide an efficient and flexible home for the general learning resources of the Oberlin campus. In this capacity, it will house the College’s central computer services and audio-visual center, as well as the library collection, But beyond these utility functions, it was felt that the building must enhance the campus and provide the study and work space that is in keeping with the informal atmosphere, but the high standards, of Oberlin College.

For a building as large in floor and area as the Seeley G. Mudd Learning Center (some 200,000 square feet), with its need for uncluttered space for the orderly and efficient shelving of Oberlin’s large collection of books, the problems were complex. Advances in library sciences and knowledge of usage patterns have been incorporated into the design. Provisions have been made for “organized nooks and crannies” as well as for open spaces, to fit a variety of moods and feelings. This has been done, primarily, by the arrangement of furnishings in relationship to books, variations in furniture types, and bold colors which are used for identification as well as for pure decoration.

The Learning Center will close off the west end of the open area upon which Wilder Hall faces, forming a new quadrangle. The structure has been integrated with the existing environment, and each façade has been broken into three parts to solve the problem of size versus scale. Particular attention has been paid to facing materials used and the proportion of glass to solid surfaces. The three so-called “bridges” at the 4th, 3rd and 2nd floor levels at the front of the building step inward and down to funnel outside space into the building and to make the transition from the outdoors to the building entrance. This regressed space provides a semi-sheltered welcoming aspect to the entrance, as well.

The Seeley G. Mudd Learning Center has been designed to be in harmony with, and maintain the character of the Oberlin campus and to provide a place that students and faculty will find functionally designed and aesthetically pleasing.


Warner, Burns, Toan, and Lunde. The Seeley G. Mudd Learning Center Dedication Celebration. Oberlin: Oberlin College, 1974. Print.

Academic Commons, main floor, designed by DesignGroup, Columbus, Ohio. Dedicated 28 September 2007. Project cost: $1.5 million. The Academic Commons was designed to provide coordinated research, information, technology, and learning assistance for Oberlin students, and to facilitate academic community on campus. The design incorporates Azariah's Cafe, located in the southeast corner of the main level, named for Azariah S. Root, library director from 1887-1927.

Academic Commons Dedication Celebration booklet, RG 0 Series 24, Box 5.

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