WKU Commons at Helm Library marks construction milestone

A construction crane lifted a major piece of the new WKU Commons at Helm Library into place Wednesday afternoon. Installing a 24-foot-long support beam marks a significant milestone in the construction progress of the $35 million project. WKU President Timothy C. Caboni celebrated at a beam raising event with Luckett & Farley, Gensler and A&K Construction leadership.

“Generations of Hilltoppers have passed through the doors at Helm Library, and it is exciting to watch this historic building transform yet again to serve future generations of WKU students,” said President Caboni. “Once complete, the WKU Commons at Helm Library will be a lively hub for studying, socializing and collaborating. Placing this beam today is a tangible step forward in our promise to invest in modern, innovative facilities for students and faculty.”

Construction for WKU Commons at Helm Library began in January 2020 and continues with little impact from COVID-19. Much of the first six months were spent on demolition work, which peeled back multiple layers of the 86-year-old building including removing the west wall. The three-story renovation project, by Luckett & Farley of Louisville with Chicago-based Gensler, keeps the best aspects of the former Helm Library’s character while creating a more modern multi-purpose space.

“Helm Library’s original architecture and history are valuable parts of WKU’s story, which we felt was crucial to incorporate into our design. Our research into the building’s history helped guide our approach,” said Luckett & Farley President and CEO Aric Andrew. “We discovered the building’s hidden features, which helped us edit outdated elements of the current structure. The final Commons honors the library’s classic elements while creating a dynamic, flexible and inviting modern collegiate facility.”