Northeastern University - Digital Media Commons

Traditional Library's 21st Century Transformation

Located at the heart of Northeastern University’s campus, the former Snell Library was transformed from traditional book stack space to a flexible learning commons with state-of-the-art media capabilities. With an innovative model that supports collaboration in digital creation, design and analysis, the Digital Media Commons reaches beyond the traditional library mission to include resources as diverse as 3D printing labs, an innovation center and audio/video/post-production studios. By re-thinking established boundaries between staffing roles, the building provides an environment that is more effective and supportive of digital media on campus.

The project united key decision-makers from the Library, Information Technology Services, and Digital Media and Design Studio (a department within the College of Arts, Media and Design) in support of an integrated Digital Media Commons. During the programming process, opportunities for recasting stacking and program arrangements on the four existing levels became clear. Classrooms that had been distributed throughout the library were relocated to high quality space within a new dedicated classroom wing. Staff offices were moved to upper floors to free up prime ground floor areas for student use. The ground floor now includes one of the signature spaces of the building, a dramatic 10,000 SF open plan commons, with robust infrastructure for high density computing and printing.

Spaces throughout the Digital Media Commons provide diverse opportunities for new models of academic collaboration. Students can engage in individual study or work in teams on content creation for assignments, including advanced graphics and geographic information systems. Faculty can also gain technical guidance on digital scholarship and methodologies for integrating media into coursework. By promoting content sharing in audio/video/post-production and 3D printing expertise, the Digital Media Commons creates a cooperative setting for a full range of interdisciplinary work.


Boston, MA

Building Type

Innovation Lab, Audio/Visual Studio, Classroom, Training Room, Office, 3D Printing Lab


100,000 SF

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