Browsing Foward

Details, Details:
Defining a vision for Fondren

SMU leadership gave the green light last spring for an RFP (request for proposal) to engage an architect to set a path for major improvements to Fondren Library Center.

Engaging the right architectural firm was crucial, according to Gillian M. McCombs, Dean and Director, Central University Libraries. Dewberry, a Virginia-based architecture, engineering and consulting group, was selected for the job. The firm has worked with a number of universities and municipalities on library projects.

Weekly meetings began with the Dewberry team August 12. During this conceptual phase, the discussions examined a broad spectrum of concerns – everything from safety issues and mechanical systems to design and landscaping – through a lens of financial feasibility and long-term viability.

Just as the physical layout will evolve to suit users' demands, so will the types of services offered and their delivery. Under consideration is a concierge concept for reference services. Borrowed from environments as varied as upscale hotels and the Apple Genius Bars, the model places reference staff in a central hub to greet, direct and assist patrons as they enter the library.

Another possibility involves a strategic collaboration between the Information Commons and the Help Desk to produce a mobile tech support system. Staff will move through the library to answer questions and help students with technology issues.

By next summer, plans will be approved and work will begin. The renovation is scheduled for completion in May 2016. Estimated cost of the project is $19 million, with CUL raising $10 million.

In this Year of the Library, the renovation provides supporters with a rare opportunity to play a part in shaping the Fondren Library Center of the future. The project includes the last naming opportunity on SMU's historic main quad. To learn more, including information about naming opportunities, please contact Paulette Mulry, CUL Development Director, at 214-768-1741 or email

More information about the Fondren Library Center project, including a slideshow of conceptual renderings, is available online at