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This year's library architectural landscape encompasses combination spaces, meticulous renovations and restorations, and innovative thinking in the reuse of existing structures. The 107 public library capital projects and 19 academic buildings completed between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, present fascinating and functioning responses to library service needs that are shaking up the design waterfront.
A number of libraries have gone "open concept," featuring an atrium around which service areas revolve. The new Visitation Valley Branch Library in San Francisco has a central atrium and arched entryways, while the Spencer Road Branch of St. Charles City-County Library District, MO, has a two-story atrium, a gas fireplace, and a water feature in what it is referring to as its Community Commons. The new Lyman Beecher Brooks Library at Norfolk State University, VA, introduced a three-story atrium along with a circular staircase, glass curtain walls, mobile service desks, and tables that are curved, waved, of elliptical. Malibu Library, CA, has retractable glass walls that open the inside space to the outside reading garden.
Combination spaces in partnership with civic institutions keep the library at the center of the community. The Ocotillo Library and Workforce Literacy Center, Phoenix, provides one access point for the Phoenix Workforce Connection, while the Fairview Park Branch, OH, incorporated a Job & Career Center on the second floor.
The new Millcreek Community Center Library in Salt Lake City joins with a senior center and a cafe in a building that is state-of-the-art. Several public libraries invoke academic terminology and a unified vibe in referring to their locations as a civic campus. The new West Jordan Library and Viridian Event Center, UT, home to an outdoor amphitheater, overlaps municipal and recreational spaces. Bifold doors connect interior library areas with the outdoor event zones. The Fountain dale Public Library in Bolingbrook, IL, was conceived as a dream environment within its "civic reality." The South County Library in Roanoke, VA, is on a 26-acre parcel of land situated across from an elementary school, adjacent to athletic fidds, and accessible by 1100 miles of pedestrian and bike trails. Even the new Chicago Theological Seminary Learning Commons is integrated with chapels and academic and administrative centers.
The renovated Ortega Branch in San Francisco is at the center of a civic plaza that resides near a playground and three schools. The Loveland Public Library, CO, has achieved Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in its civic center locale. The Ramsey County Library @ New Brighton, MN, also calls a community center collaboration borne, inviting patrons to enjoy its fire-place and comfortable reading room.
Talk about partnerships, the Kent Branch of Toledo-Lucas County Public Library transformed into a Library/Technology Access Center through a collaboration with 56 community-focused partners, e.g., Mayor Michael Bell, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and a dozen local businesses and foundations. Also, it revved upa cybermobile tech classroom on wheels.
Focusing on our younger users, a creative children's space took center stage at the renovated Farmingdale Public Library, NY, with the installation of a 500 gallon saltwater aquarium. The children's wing at Los Gatos Library, CA, includes a pop-out teen room that is cantilevered over a plaza, providing the teens with great views.
The innovation sphere rocked with Oakland's Rock-ridge Library Teen Zone, the 9800 square foot teen space at Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock, the Dansville Public Library, NY, Teen Mezzanine, and New York's Sachem Public Library in Holbrook with its desTEENation.
Academic libraries are doing their bit to offer amenities and flexibility for their clientele. Renner Academic Library at Elgin Community College, IL, focused on making connections through social spaces and lounge seating and connecting with nature through courtyard views that make the most of natural light. The Pattee and Paterno Library at Penn State has a demountable wall system that is easily scalable and recon-figurable. The Richard J. Daley Library at University of Illinois at Chicago offers an IDEA (Information, Data, Expertise, Access) Commons for high-tech collaborations.
The Levi Watkins Learning Center at Alabama State University in Montgomery incorporates open flexible learning spaces with a wide range of exhibit options. A sunken outdoor courtyard with media walls at the Yale University Center for Science & Social Science Information combines three formerly separate spaces.
Innovate while renovating
Many ofthis year's projects are targeting LEED certification for sustainability or have already achieved it--Topanga Library, CA, Gold West Hollywood Library, CA, Gold; Manoa Public Library, HI, Gold; Patrick Heath Public Library, Boerne, TX, Gold; and Franklin Avenue Library, Des Moines, reaching a LEED Platinum rating. The Old Town Library in Fort Collins, CO, has carried through on its dream of net-zero energy usage.
The "greenest" library, however, is often the one created from an existing structure and making adaptive reuse of that building. The Lincoln Branch in Peoria, IL, is a restored 1911 Carnegie building, plus a 12,000 square foot addition that features a hot-air balloon theme in the story time room.
Major building projects have brought New Orleans back in part with four new libraries that replaced facilities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center project managed to restore a historic bungalow and add a library space. The Stone County Library in Crane, MO, is the result of the remodel of a 100-year-old historic-district structure, and the Washington Public Library, MO, reconnected two floors of what was formerly the library and the police department. A new central staircase with glass railings, clerestory windows, a new entryway, and a children's garden/plaza update the facility. The Sherburne Public Library, NY, project restored a 1911 Carnegie building that was originally designed by Edward Lippincott Tilton.
Problem-solving while preserving
After converting a 10,000 square foot chain restaurant, the Union Township Branch in Cincinnati established laptop "touchdown arcas" so patrons can make use of the building's Wi-Fi service. The Allendale County Library, SC, was an auto-parts store, and the Otay Ranch Branch Library in Chula Vista, CA, has a three-year "rent free" lease on its former pizza restaurant shopping center site. The Mesa County Palisade Branch, Grand Junction, CO, started out as a lumber yard, but the most impressive conversion project has to be the McAllen Public Library, TX, which transformed an abandoned Walmart store into a 124,000 square foot library, the biggest single-level library in the country. With movable furnishings, transportable stacks, and flexible configurations, this year's library buildings were designed for long-term service and room to grow. Creativity, innovation, and a big wave to the future.
Rockin' Rotundas 1. The new 115,000 square foot Russell Special Collections Libraries Building at the University of Georgia, Athens, offers exhibit space for its three main special collections and event space with a 3,300 square foot banquet room, along with a glorious central rotunda. 2, Kids have all the fun at Utah's Springville Library, with the playful children's rotunda mobile composed of apparently random forms, though it is said that when viewed from just the right angle, an identifiable image appears.
CREDIT 1. Collins Cooper Carusi, architect; photo, Kieran Reynolds Photography. 2. JRCA Architects, Inc., architect: photo, Sohm Photografx
A study in grace
1. Interconnections of learning and living are the key to the flexibility of the new 15,500 square foot Commons at the Richard J. Daley Library, University of Illinois at Chicago. 2. A grey limestone exterior mixed with iron-spot brick on the American Bureau of $hipping Information Commons at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay, achieves a building skin that is distinctive and contextuat, 3. There is nothing square about the Cube at the William E. Morgan Library, Colorado State University, Fort Colfins. The 24-hour study space has tons of glass for a panorama of campus views. 4. More all-day, al!-night study occurs at the two-story Center for Science & Social Science Information; Yale University, New Haven, CT, with group study rooms and a sunken courtyard in a space that combines the operations of three formerly …