University of San Diego

Copley Library Renovation

San Diego, CA

The renovation of Copley Library enhanced the original 1951 facility and transformed the interior of the 1985 addition. At the time the addition was built, the highest priority was given to extending the appearance of the exterior façades, with only modest consideration given to library planning, a decision proving to be problematic for the library today. Although highly compatible with the campus architectural vernacular on the exterior, the interior was challenging for students and staff alike due to poor acoustics, a shortage of seating and study space, less-than-ideal conditions for special collections, lack of appropriate research spaces, and the absence of a functional library administrative suite. These challenges were addressed with new programmatic elements, including enhanced collaborative study areas, a new entry point to improve circulation and accessibility, re-envisioned Special Collections areas with both digital and physical resources, reconfigured general collection and staff work areas, and active learning spaces.

Project Data

50,000 sf

Program Highlights

New entry
Redesigned Special Collections with digital and physical resources
Flexible, technology-rich classrooms to accommodate groups of different sizes
Reading lounge


Structural Engineer: Saiful Bouquet
General Contractor: DPR Construction
Mechanical, Plumbing & LEED: Ma Engineers
Electrical & Lighting: Mwe Engineering, Inc.

“With the pandemic over, the students are enjoying the building. I held an art exhibit in the upstairs foyer and the space was perfect. The design and floor plan have proved to be exactly what we needed. People love the Journals Reading Room and the group study rooms.”— Theresa Byrd, Dean, University Library, University of San Diego

Renovated second floor reader seating
Second floor reader seating before renovation