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UC San Diego unveils remodel of Geisel Library’s main lobby

The lobby of UC San Diego's Geisel Library now features a 1970s-style lounge space.
The lobby of UC San Diego’s Geisel Library now features a 1970s-style lounge space.
(Gary Robbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune )

New features include a ‘70s-style lounge and lighting reminiscent of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’

Eye-catching skyscrapers are rising at UC San Diego. But the thing that might rivet people’s attention this week as the fall quarter begins is the remodeling of Geisel Library’s main lobby.

The library’s users have long complained that the lobby is bland, cluttered and confusing, especially in guiding people where they want to go.

The university created clearer, brighter, better-marked corridors to handle the roughly 2.6 million people who visit Geisel each year. The lighting calls to mind scenes from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which is appropriate — the futuristic-looking library is widely known as UCSD’s “mother ship.”

A vending machine stocked with books? In the lobby of a library?

The walls inside the main entrance have been adorned with large murals. And a warmly colored lounge has been placed near the back of the lobby to give people a place to step away from the flood of library-goers. The design is reminiscent of the 1970s, when the library, which is shaped liked an inverted pyramid, opened at the center of campus.

The lobby also now features better spaces for displays. To kick things off, UCSD put together an exhibit about the early decades of Geisel, which was designed by architect William Pereira, who also designed landmarks such as the Transamerica pyramid building in downtown San Francisco.

During a reception Sept. 15, university Librarian Erik Mitchell marveled at the new look and said, “I really like it.” ◆