WKU Libraries won the prestigious ALA (American Library Association) and IIDA (International Interior Design Association) award for Outstanding Historic Renovation Project!

Bowling Green, KY – WKU Libraries is proud to announce that The Commons at Helm Library has been honored with the 2024 ALA/IIDA award for Outstanding Historic Renovation Project. This prestigious award recognizes the innovative transformation of the Helm Library into an exciting and modern space that embodies the essence of scholarship and creativity.

The Commons at Helm Library project was announced during President Timothy Caboni’s investiture on April 27, 2018. This was a major milestone in the evolution of WKU’s campus. President Caboni envisioned the Commons as a place where ideas are created, shared, and shaped, highlighting its role as the intellectual hub of the university community. Designed by the architectural firm Gensler in collaboration with Luckett & Farley, The Commons at Helm Library represents a harmonious blend of historic preservation and contemporary design. The adaptive reuse of the Helm Library building has provided a dynamic setting that fosters learning, collaboration, and community engagement.

Susann de Vries, Dean of University Libraries and chair of the University Steering Committee, played a crucial role in guiding the renovation project. Leveraging her background in academic libraries, historic conservation, and a M.S. in Historic Preservation, she worked to merge the building’s rich history with a vision for future student success. Her experience ensured that The Commons at Helm Library would serve as a transformative space for generations of Hilltoppers. “The Commons at Helm Library has been preserved and reborn to foster a vibrant and inclusive space of collaboration, innovation and academic excellence for many Hilltopper generations to come,” said de Vries. 

Brian Watson, Design Director at Gensler, highlighted the evolving role of libraries in today’s educational landscape. He emphasized the library must transform from a static purveyor of information to an active academic hub. The design of The Commons at Helm Library embodies this forward-thinking approach, providing a seamless blend of individual and social learning spaces.

WKU Libraries is honored to receive the ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award for Outstanding Historic Renovation Project, recognizing The Commons at Helm Library as an inspiration of innovation and excellence in library design. As President Caboni aptly stated, “While no one graduates from the library, no one graduates without the library.” The Commons at Helm Library stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of learning and community at Western Kentucky University.

For more information about the award, please visit: 



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