As the role of libraries rapidly evolves, designing them to best meet the current and future demands of their surrounding communities is as crucial as ever. In this spirit, the American Institute of Architects teamed up with the American Library Association to create the annual Library Building Awards, which distinguish recent library projects for demonstrating top-notch architectural design.
The 2017 awards competition wrapped up with eight winning projects. Have a look at them below.
New York Public Library Stapleton Branch Renovation and Expansion; New York City
Andrew Berman Architect, PLLC
Project excerpt: “Expanding from a single-room Carnegie branch library that had served Stapleton, Staten Island, for a century, this project has created a new 12,000-square-foot library that better serves the community. Open, inviting, and accessible, the project stitches together new and old buildings, and provides equal space for tactile and digital learning opportunities. Restored to its original design, the existing Carnegie library now houses the children’s area, while the expansion on the other side of a transparent community room contains teen and adult reading areas and research facilities.”
Boston Public Library, Central Library Renovation; Boston
William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.
Project excerpt: “Embracing the concept of a library as a big urban room, it provides immersive and engaging learning experiences for patrons inside as well as pedestrians who pass by. Originally constructed in 1895, this renovation has dramatically transformed a wing of the library from a solid stone bunker to an inviting light-filled space that spills out into a newly defined public plaza. The library boasts a range of spaces for both formal and informal convening: A 340-seat auditorium, open space for performances, and a conference center.”
Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center; New Orleans
Project excerpt: “This library is located in the heart of New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood, where flooding from Hurricane Katrina was especially devastating. Funded entirely through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s recovery program, the project involved the restoration of a 1917 Arts and Crafts bungalow that serves as a community center and reconstruction of an adjacent 6,300-square-foot library wing. The new library and restored community center provide the neighborhood with an innovative facility that offers opportunities to engage with technology and alternative educational outreach programs.”
Project excerpt: “Accessible and transparent, the project’s simple design goals have fostered a coherency that is evident throughout. The simple configuration, flooded by reading-friendly northern light, provides maximum flexibility for the rapidly changing needs of modern libraries. A series of LED screens also displays the structure’s energy performance in real time.”
National Library of Latvia; Riga, Latvia
Gunnar Birkerts Architects; Associate Architect: Gelzis-Smits/Arhetips
Project excerpt: “Anchoring the ‘new’ section of the 800-year-old city, the library is a major cultural center firmly rooted in the 21st century. The new 600,000 square-foot library was envisioned as a place to store, preserve, and make accessible the country’s cultural heritage. To that end, it is supported by state-of-the-art technology that allows for easy digitization and safe storage... Presented in vertical arrays in appropriately sized spaces, the library's collections all connect to the central stack core, including a full wall display of books donated by Latvians as a symbolic gesture soars through the atrium and teases the massive adjacent stack area.”
Project excerpt: “Guided by feedback provided by the University of Oregon’s student body—which had requested a more user-friendly space with facilities for group work and peer-to-peer instruction—this project included a complete renovation and addition to an existing underground library. Atop an 48,000-square-foot underground library, the project added 4,000 square feet of new space. Occupying a difficult site wedged between two buildings, sub-floor-to-high-ceiling windows illuminate the commons space with natural light. A new entry pavilion supplements a brutalist courtyard that exacerbated the subterranean conditions of the existing library and maximizes available light below. A wood curtainwall sprouts organically in the courtyard, creating a calming forest atmosphere.”
Varina Area Library; Henrico, Virginia
BCWH, Associate Architect: Tappe Architects
Project excerpt: “Serving an agrarian community southeast of Richmond, Va., this new branch of the Henrico County Public Library system replaces an aging facility and provides nearly eight times of space. Situated on a 22-acre parcel previously occupied by a private residence, the new building bridges its rural and historic context with the contemporary ambitions of the community. With a series of pavilions that emerge and cascade down the landscape, the design’s simple palette and forms evoke an assemblage of tobacco barns. Inside, the new library provides countless opportunities for patrons to engage with the collections and the staff.”
East Boston Branch Library; Boston
William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.
Project excerpt: “Built on the site of a former brownfield, the new East Boston Branch Library drives educational opportunities and responds to the needs of one of Boston’s fastest growing and most diverse neighborhoods—where 50 percent of the population was born outside of the US and under the age of 19. Through commitment from the city, library system, and architects, what has emerged is a true collaboration for the betterment of a community.”
The 2017 jury included: Will Bruder, FAIA, (Chair) Will Bruder Architects; Duncan Ballash, AIA, EHDD; Luren E. Dickinson, Beaumont Library District; Ameet Doshi, Georgia Institute of Technology Library; Alan Grosenheider, UCSB Library; Alexander Lamis, FAIA, Robert A.M. Stern Architects.
Check out previous winners in the links below.
Photos courtesy of the AIA.
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