WKU Commons at Helm Library marks construction milestone

A historic building at the top of the hill at Western Kentucky University is transforming again.

Originally built in 1934 as a campus basketball arena and then retrofitted in the 1960s to become a library, the structure will soon become WKU Commons at Helm Library. The new hybrid space will be a lively hub for studying, socializing and collaboration.

“Helm Library’s original architecture and history are valuable parts of WKU’s story, which we felt was crucial to incorporate into our design. Our research into the building’s history helped guide our approach,” said Luckett & Farley President and CEO Aric Andrew. “We discovered the building’s hidden features, which helped us edit outdated elements of the current structure. The final Commons honors the library’s classic elements while creating a dynamic, flexible and inviting modern collegiate facility.”

Western Kentucky University President Timothy Caboni along with WKU Commons Steering Committee members and Luckett & Farley, Gensler and A&K Construction leaders marked an important milestone for WKU Commons at Helm Library in Bowling Green July 15. They gathered to raise a 24-foot-long, 1500 pound structural support beam and celebrate the first months of demolition and renovation progress.

The LEED Silver project recycled nearly 2000 tons of waste materials in its first phase of demolition diverting 89% of removed scrap, books and concrete from landfills. More than 43,000 worker-hours have gone into demolition and renovation work so far. The renovated 85,000 sq. ft. library, study space and food and dining facility will be completed before the Fall 2021 semester begins.

— Rachel Nix

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