Campus redesign rings in new era for Beatley Library


Beatley Library, 2022

Rachel Andriacchi, Contributing Writer

After being closed since Fall 2020 due to the One Simmons project, the Beatley Library has reopened to the Simmons community at full capacity.

During renovations, the library lived in the Executive Dining Room on the fifth floor of the Management and Academic Building, accommodating the Library Course Reserves collection and part of the Archives collection. Upon reopening, the library now sits on the first floor and ground level of the Main College Building’s west wing.

One Simmons is a multi-phase project that aims to consolidate the residence and academic campuses into one. Its ultimate goal is to make campus “more accessible, more inclusive, and more open and integrated with all of our different populations,” says Laura Brink Pisinski, Simmons University’s Vice President of University Real Estate and Facilities Management.

Phase 2 of One Simmons was the renovation of Lefavour Hall, which was the original home of the Beatley Library. Simmons partnered with Elkus Manfredi Architects to complete this project, which worked closely with the library staff to design the space.

Library Director Vivienne Piroli worked alongside the library staff and University Archivist Jason Wood to create a program statement that takes into account all of the functions, work, and activities taking place in the library.

“We’d describe all of the work and all of the activities that happen in the library space, and then it’s up to the architects and designers to conceptualize that in a three-dimensional plan,” says Piroli. 

Above all, the student experience was placed front and center, according to both Piroli and Brink Pisinski. 

Piroli says she noticed that undergraduate students in particular tend to come to the library to do homework at open tables.

“I usually study in my room, but I definitely meet up with people at the library. I think it’s a great meeting point to go from,” says Kate Farrell, a senior Public Relations and Marketing Communications student. 

This trend in usage factored into the design of the space. “Gone are the days where the entire library is silent all the time. It’s more a place where people can gather, exchange ideas, and learn together. That was kind of the way we thought we wanted this library to function,” says Brink Pisinski.

Farrell believes that student needs were taken into consideration during the renovation. “The old library was not set up in a way to accommodate the amount of students at Simmons that need certain spaces. You can clearly tell that the planning that went into this new space was ready to accommodate so many students’ needs,” she says.

In an opinion piece for the Voice published in September 2021, alumna Sara Getman wrote, “We no longer have a library to go to, or private study rooms. Instead we are crammed into Common Grounds and the Fens, we compete for meeting rooms, and it’s rare to find a place to sit alone.” 

According to Farrell, this no longer seems to be an issue. “I’ve been walking through Common Grounds recently and I’m like, ‘it’s not as busy as it used to be,’ and I think it’s because people finally have the library to go study. For so many students, that space is vital to their learning.”

With Lefavour and Beatley Library reopened, it’s time for One Simmons to continue. The next, and final, phase of the project is the construction of the new Living and Learning Center in place of the old Park Science building. 

Brink Pisinski is hopeful that the Simmons community will “continue to come on this journey with us and to understand that everything that we do and everything we’re thinking about is how to make life easier and better for students, how to enhance that student experience, and how to allow better interactions between faculty and students.”