2015 Library Design Showcase

From the Past, the Future

September 1, 2015

Library Design Showcase

Welcome to the 2015 Library Design Showcase, American Libraries’ annual celebration of new and renovated libraries. These are shining examples of innovative architecture that address user needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways. New construction dominated this year’s submissions, but renovated and repurposed spaces were a close second, showing how today’s libraries are both conserving existing resources and adapting to economic realities.

Renovating History

The John Hay Library, Brown University,  Providence, Rhode Island
Built in 1910, the John Hay Library at Brown University was brought into the present with recent renovations. In addition to enhanced research spaces in the main reading room and special collections room, the library added a new ADA-accessible entrance and safety and security features that are integrated into the historic building’s original architecture.
Project: Renovation
Architect: Selldorf Architects
Size: 78,961 square feet
Cost: $15 million

John Hay Library
The John Hay Library, Brown University. Photo: Brown University

Sawyer Library at Stetson Hall, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
The massive library complex at Williams College is a marriage of the traditional and modern. After demolishing a 1970s-era library building, the college united the historic Stetson Hall with a modern five-story facility housing the new Sawyer Library, the Chapin Library of Rare Books, and the Center for Education Technology.
Project: Renovation and expansion
Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Size: 178,000 square feet
Cost: $66.8 million

Sawyer Library at Stetson Hall, Williams College
Sawyer Library at Stetson Hall, Williams College. Photos: Peter Aaron

Mary Helen Cochran Library, Sweet Briar (Va.) College
Renovations to the 1929-built Mary Helen Cochran Library restore the building to architect Ralph Adams Cram’s original vision. A 1967 wing that obscured Cram’s design was replaced with a structure built from masonry, slate, and brick used throughout campus. The addition enhances sightlines to campus and increases interior natural lighting by opening up windows blocked by the old construction.
Project: Renovation and expansion
Architect: VMDO Architects, P. C.
Size: 54,000 square feet
Cost: $8.8 million

Mary Helen Cochran Library, Sweet Briar College
Mary Helen Cochran Library, Sweet Briar College. Photos: Ansel Olsen

Repurposed

Southeast Branch, Nashville Public Library, Antioch, Tennessee
The Southeast Branch of Nashville Public Library is housed in a former J. C. Penney department store. Sharing the space with a community center, it has a makerspace with 3D printer and a 24-hour-accessible lobby with touchscreen displays to access downloadable materials.
Project: Adaptive reuse
Architect: HBM Architects
Size: 25,000 square feet
Cost: $18.4 million

Southeast Branch, Nashville Public Library
Southeast Branch, Nashville Public Library. Photo: Tonda McKay

Northside Library, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Charlottesville, Virginia
HBM Architects transformed a steel structure built in 1988 that once served as a building supply store into the Northside Library. Warm colors and bright accents disguise the space’s former use, and new skylights and a glass wall bring natural light and transparency to the facility.
Project: Adaptive reuse
Architect: HBM Architects
Size: 36,500 square feet
Cost: $11.8 million

Northside Library, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library
Northside Library, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. Photo: Steve Trumbull

Library 21c, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Pikes Peak Library District breathed new life into a space vacant for decades, creating a hands-on learning facility with 3D printers, sewing machines, video game development capabilities, a 400-seat venue for presentations, audio and visual recording studios, and an e-help center.
Project: Adaptive reuse
Architect: Humphries Poli Architects
Size: 112,883 square feet
Cost: $10.7 million

Library 21c, Pikes Peak Library District
Library 21c, Pikes Peak Library District. Photo: Humphries Poli Architects

Shared Spaces

Clareview Branch, Edmonton (Alberta) Public Library
The City of Edmonton and Edmonton Public Library joined forces to create a joint branch library and recreation center. The facility has become a transformational force, offering library and learning services and social and cultural activities to a neighborhood with lower-than-average household incomes and rates of secondary education.
Project: New construction
Architect: Teeple Architects, Inc.
Size: 19,316 square feet
Cost: $7.4 million

Clareview Branch, Edmonton Public Library
Clareview Branch, Edmonton Public Library. Photo: Tom Arban

Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, Palo Alto, California
The Mitchell Park Library and Community Center replaces two outdated facilities. Designed with community input, the LEED Platinum–certified building looks to the future with vibrant colors, bold architectural elements, and abundant light. To celebrate the community’s heritage, a large existing oak tree in the courtyard has been incorporated into the building’s design.
Project: New construction
Architect: Group 4 Architecture, Research + Planning, Inc.
Size: 56,000 square feet
Cost: $46.3 million

Mitchell Park Library and Community Center
Mitchell Park Library and Community Center. Photo: Gregory Cortez

For the Kids

Central Library, Boston Public Library
The second floor of the Central Library’s Johnson Building has been transformed into a kid and teen wonderland awash in natural light and bright colors. The kids’ area features new storytime spaces and a tween area, while the teen area is tech-friendly, with a digital lab, a media lounge, and homework and hangout booths.
Project: Renovation
Architect: William Rawn  Associates, Architects, Inc.
Size: 42,245 square feet
Cost: $16.1 million

Central Library, Boston Public Library
Central Library, Boston Public Library. Photo: Boston Public Library

East Hampton (N.Y.) Library
East Hampton (N.Y.) Library channels the East Coast’s seafaring history into its kids section with a reference desk shaped like a boat, two 10-foot-tall model lighthouses, hanging lights shaped like seagulls, and a local map on the floor complete with a sea serpent and Native Americans canoeing across Peconic Bay.
Project: Renovation and expansion
Architect: Robert A. M. Stern Architects, LLP
Size: 25,000 square feet
Cost: $6.5 million

East Hampton Library
East Hampton (N.Y.) Library. Photo: Francis Dzikowski/OTTO

A/V Teens

Main Library, Monroe County (Ind.) Public Library, Bloomington
Monroe County (Ind.) Public Library transformed its movie and music areas into two state-of-the-art digital creation centers. The ground floor teen space encourages collaboration with its open modular design, while the second floor houses a green-screen video production studio and two soundproof audio recording studios.
Project: Renovation
Architect: Christine Matheu, Architect
Size: 131,598 square feet
Cost: $633,000

Main Library, Monroe County Public Library
Main Library, Monroe County (Ind.) Public Library. Photo: Kendall Reeves/Spectrum Studio Inc.

Higher Learning

Library Learning Commons, Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester
Southern New Hampshire University’s Library Learning Commons is a large, impressive structure at the heart of the campus. It houses the university’s relocated Shapiro Library and features a new innovation lab, a learning center, a makerspace, an IT help desk, and a café.
Project: New construction
Architect: Perry Dean Rogers | Partners Architects
Size: 50,000 square feet
Cost: $17.3 million

Library Learning Commons, Southern New Hampshire University
Library Learning Commons, Southern New Hampshire University. Photo: Chuck Choi

Jerry Falwell Library, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia
The new Jerry Falwell Library is a structure devoted to student activity, with a wide range of flexible spaces to work and socialize. A large learning commons and public areas offer informal gathering spots, while personal study zones and small- to medium-sized group study rooms allow for quiet retreat.
Project: New construction
Architect: VMDO Architects, P. C.
Size: 170,000 square feet
Cost: $50 million

Jerry Falwell Library, Liberty University
Jerry Falwell Library, Liberty University. Photo: Alan Karchmer

Syracuse (N.Y.) University, College of Law Library
Natural light streams in through glass window walls on all four sides of the new law library at Syracuse (N.Y.) University. Part of a new LEED–certified College of Law building, the library has 44,211 feet of shelving, 300 seats, a 20-seat classroom, eight group study rooms, a climate-controlled rare book room, and is connected to a ceremonial appellate courtroom and public space.
Project: New construction
Architect: Gluckman Mayner Architects
Size: 31,928 square feet
Cost: $100 million

Syracuse University, College of Law Library
Syracuse University, College of Law Library. Photo: Steve Sartori

Open and Airy

The Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Library, Corning (N.Y.) Community College
Corning (N.Y.) Community College’s Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Library is a hub for student learning that provides ample space for collections, student work, and technology. It also looks like it’s light as air when viewed from the outside, with its towering glass walls that reveal large open inside spaces.
Project: Renovation
Architect: HOLT Architects, P. C.
Size: 34,200 square feet
Cost: $7.9 million

The Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Library, Corning Community College
The Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Library, Corning (N.Y.) Community College. Photo: Revette Studio

At One with Nature

East Roswell (Ga.) Branch, ­Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
The design for the East Roswell (Ga.) Branch Library connects the facility with the surrounding wooded areas, creating a library within the trees. A covered bridge entry leads patrons into a library where open sightlines, stone, wood, other warm natural materials and products, and expanses of glass blur the boundary between exterior and interior space.
Project: New construction
Architect: HBM Architects
Size: 15,200 square feet
Cost: $6.2 million

East Roswell Branch, ­ Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
East Roswell (Ga.) Branch, ­Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Photo: Tonda McKay

Main Library, East Baton Rouge (La.) Parish Library at Goodwood
The East Baton Rouge (La.) Parish Library’s Main Library takes full advantage of its location within a community park to offer an immersive experience with nature. A three-story glass wall offers views of a botanical garden, while a central plaza connects the library to gardens, soccer fields, and a new café. A rooftop terrace completes the effect.
Project: New construction
Architect: Library Design Collaborative: A Joint Venture
Size: 129,000 square feet
Cost: $42.2 million

Main Library, East Baton Rouge Parish Library at Goodwood
Main Library, East Baton Rouge (La.) Parish Library at Goodwood. Photo: Josh Peak

Wow Factor

Wolf Creek Branch, Atlanta-Fulton (Ga.) Public Library System
Designed in collaboration with Fulton County and area stakeholders, the Wolf Creek Branch Library symbolically embodies the progress and connectedness of the deeply rooted African-American community of Wolf Creek. The building blends into its lush surroundings, while features like the striking slanted roof reflect the community’s upward mobility.
Project: New construction
Architect: Leo A. Daly
Size: 25,000 square feet
Cost: $7.1 million

Wolf Creek Branch, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
Wolf Creek Branch, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Photo: Ron Rizzo/Creative Source Photography, Inc.

Bellevue Branch, Nashville (Tenn.) Public Library
The Bellevue Branch Library reflects a community reenergized after being devastated by a flood in 2010. The building’s elongated modular form recalls stacks of books, emphasizing the importance of learning, wonder, collaboration, escape, and critical thinking to community development and revitalization.
Project: New construction
Architect: Hastings Architecture Associates, LLC
Size: 25,000 square feet
Cost: $6 million

Bellevue Branch,  Nashville Public Library
Bellevue Branch, Nashville (Tenn.) Public Library. Photo: Zach Goodyear/Aerial Innovations

Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch, Denver Public Library
The colorful Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch embraces the “library as greenhouse” concept, with a three-story plenum wall that serves as a light, water, and air filter. The “living” wall bisects the building and safeguards water, facilitates a passive displacement ventilation system, invites and filters daylight into the library, and showcases the building’s automated systems to patrons.
Project: New construction
Architect: Studiotrope Design Collective
Size: 27,000 square feet
Cost: $14 million

Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch, Denver Public Library
Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch, Denver Public Library. Photo: David Lauer