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Press Releases

Friday, October 20, 2017

Guerrieri Academic Commons Earns Architectural, Construction Awards

Patricia R. Guerreri Academic Commons
Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons (Photo by Jeremy Bitterman)

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University’s Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons (GAC) celebrated its first anniversary this year with several architectural and construction awards.

The American Institute of Architects’ Maryland chapter (AIA Maryland) recently honored Sasaki, design architect, and Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, the architect of record, with the institute’s Excellence in Design Honor Award for the firms' work on the building. The GAC also received an honorable mention from AIA Baltimore and was recognized by AIA Potomac Valley.

“The building has been thoroughly well constructed at every scale, from its site planning allowing it to become the link between the campus and the city, to its refined details,” the AIA Maryland awards jury said. “It is a truly beautiful and well-crafted building that respects its neo-Georgian context while being very much of its time.”

Eric Berkheimer with ABC Project of the Year Award
SU Associate Vice President of Facilities and Capital Management Eric Berkheimer holds the Chesapeake Shores ABC Project ot the Year Award

In addition, the GAC’s contractor, Gilbane Building Co., was lauded for its role in the project. The Chesapeake Shores chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. recently presented the company with its 2017 Excellence in Construction Award in the “Mega-Projects” category for buildings over $100 million and named the GAC as the chapter’s Project of the Year.

“SU’s architectural and construction partnerships were integral in taking the Guerrieri Academic Commons from concept to reality,” said Eric Berkheimer, the University’s associate vice president of facilities and capital management. “We are happy that Ayers Saint Gross and Gilbane, both known nationally as leaders in the design and construction of higher education facilities, have received this well-deserved recognition for giving us this spectacular new building.”

The $117 million, 221,000-square-foot structure was known to many during its construction as the “library of the future,” and while the GAC does serve as the new home for SU’s main campus library (replacing a 1950s-era predecessor), it quickly became apparent to students that the building was much more.

By bringing together most of SU’s academic centers (Writing Center, Math Emporium, Center for Student Achievement, etc.) under one roof, as well as including special spaces for faculty and graduate students, the Academic Commons has become a hotbed and hub for collaboration.

It also includes technology that was not available at the old library, such as a 3-D printing Maker Lab, 600 computers, an archaeology laboratory and a museum-quality archival caretaking and storage facility for SU’s Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, also newly housed at the GAC.

AIA Maryland display
Scenes from the Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons were displayed at the AIA Maryland awards ceremony.

During its first year, a half million-plus visits were made to the Academic Commons, more than doubling the traffic of its predecessor. Twelve available group study rooms were reserved for an average 11.5 hours each per day, whereas the two group study rooms in SU’s old library were reserved less than 11 hours per week, according to Dr. Beatriz Hardy, dean of libraries and instructional resources. Every academic center in the building has seen increased student usage.

Architecturally, the building offers even more unique features. They include a “green roof” — a 20,000-square-foot “lawn” atop the structure, comprised of living plants that act as a rainwater collection and filtration system — and the four-octave, 48-bell Brown and Church Carillon, one of only some 60 such traditional instruments on a college or university campus nationally. Inside, the GAC’s 62-foot-tall atrium has become a campus landmark, framed by a dramatic staircase whose abstract, crab-like design (as well as other aspects of the building) was inspired by the Eastern Shore.

Earlier this year, the GAC also earned the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Maryland chapter’s Wintergreen Award for Excellence in Green Building in the Education category. The USGBC has certified it as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold building, one of the highest levels available.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at

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