NORMAN — Planned renovations to the University of Oklahoma's Bizzell Memorial Library are beginning to take shape.
The OU Board of Regents approved designs Thursday for the renovation of lower level 1 of the library's Neustadt Wing.
The renovations will create space for group collaboration, while remodeling and expanding the Bookmark Cafe, a coffee shop. The project also will more than double the area's seating capacity, bringing it to 525 seats from the current 224.
The design also includes a digital humanities laboratory, a video lab and faculty research space.
The project is estimated to cost $5 million, and will be funded through private donations and funding the university receives annually from the state Commissioners of the Land Office.
During the meeting, OU President David Boren said the renovated space would allow students to work together on collaborative projects and form study groups.
“It really is visionary,” Boren said.
At a regents meeting in March, OU officials won approval to hire Oklahoma City-based architecture firm Rees Associates to develop a master plan for the modernization of the library.
Rick Luce, OU's dean of libraries, said the renovations will allow the library to cater to students' needs. Luce said students tend to use the library for group projects and collaborative work rather than individual study.
The upcoming project is designed to create a more flexible environment, replacing big, heavy tables with smaller tables and chairs that can be moved aside or pushed together to accommodate larger groups.
Also at the meeting, the board approved a proposal to rename the building that houses Cameron University's business building for outgoing President Cindy Ross. The building will be renamed Cynthia S. Ross Hall.
Ross, who has led the university since 2002, is retiring this summer.
The board will meet at 8:15 a.m. Friday to interview candidates to replace Ross at Cameron. The board could vote on a candidate Friday.