USC Upstate breaks ground on $21M library addition

The University of South Carolina Upstate celebrated the groundbreaking of a $21 million library expansion on Thursday, April 4. The project is designed by Moseley Architects, and construction will be facilitated by Thompson Turner Construction.

The project was approved by the USC Board of Trustees in December 2022. The addition marks the first time since 2009 that the university has received substantial support for a new construction project on campus.

“This project represents not only a physical expansion, but a significant investment in the intellectual and academic growth of our students and the broader community,” USC Upstate Chancellor Bennie Harris, Ph.D., said at the groundbreaking ceremony held inside of the building.

“The library has long been the heart of our campus, serving as a center for knowledge, for collaboration, and discovery. As we break ground on this multimillion-dollar project, we embark on a journey that will enhance the education experience for generations to come.” 

The project involves a 22,000-square-foot (two floor) addition and renovation of the second floor.

The new addition will be open, light, and inviting for students to easily access the services available to them.

Services include:

  • Student Success Center – including new tutor rooms that double as group study spaces
  • Career Management – including an interview room and career closet
  • Center for International Education – including conference areas and multipurpose rooms
  • Three large classrooms with a vertically folding partition to create a large event space with access to a large outdoor terrace
  • Athletic study hall
  • Variety of open study spaces, café seating and lounge areas for student use

“The addition will address the growing needs of our expanding student body while providing cutting-edge space for innovation, research, and collaborative learning,” Harris said. “This project is a testament to our commitment to excellence, and I’m confident it will inspire all who pass through the library door.”

The building will be contextual to the USC Upstate campus, utilizing a brick exterior and precast concrete columns similar to the existing library. However, unlike the existing library, the new addition will utilize glass and wood to bring light and warmth to the façade, bringing a fresh modern look to campus.

The interior will be filled with natural light, warm wood tones, organic forms, and a sophisticated use of the USC Upstate color palette. The addition will not only be a beautiful addition to campus, but it will also be a meaningful place of learning, collaboration and achievement for students.

“Our direction for this project from Dr. Harris from the very beginning was, we want to create a ‘wow building’ on campus,” said Ben Whitener, principal at Moseley Architects. “And hopefully you can see in the images and the renderings that we’ve done that this is a ‘wow building.’”

Leadership for the investment started under Interim Chancellor Derham Cole, whom the chancellor recognized Thursday. Harris also thanked several stakeholders across the campus, community and legislature for their investment in USC Upstate and education in South Carolina.

“The General Assembly is committed to our higher education institutions. USC Upstate is a shining, bright star in South Carolina,” said state Rep. Bruce W. Bannister, chairman of House Ways and Means Committee. “We are committed to the library. It’s a great project. We are also committed to grow USC Upstate.”

As part of the renovation, the project’s site design includes expanded quiet, individual/group study rooms, a digital learning lab, space for archives and special collections, and a reading room to accommodate exhibits and presentations.

 “We are confident that the new additions and the renovations to the existing library will create a nexus of welcoming and supportive services for students,” said Pam Steinke, provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Anne Flynn speaks at a podium

Anne Flynn, chair of the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education, shared the importance of libraries in communities and college campuses, remembering visiting the public library in Spartanburg as a child with her father.

“It’s my wish that one day, the students that get to benefit from this beautiful facility and all it’s going to offer to you, will bring their little girl, or their little boy, to our library. And they will see why their education here at USC Upstate really mattered. And it will tell you, and it will tell them, what really mattered on this college campus and what a difference it makes.”

V’Dell Carter, president of the USC Upstate Student Government Association, called the space “crucial for students of today and generations to come.”

“We will utilize this space for academic success for each student. This place will become a new hub of matriculation for our Spartans,” Carter said.

Construction is expected to be completed by Fall 2026.