Posts tagged with "Libraries":
In the unassuming town of Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, Front Studio created a vibrant community library that makes a major visual impact. “Our work is based on the importance of making architecture experiential and memorable so that it fosters a higher level of awareness in people who don’t normally interact with it,” said principal Art Lubetz, who spearheaded the project.
Historically, Sharpsburg is an industrial, blue-collar town—many of its citizens work for the local H.J. Heinz Company. To reflect this heritage and to help stay within the restrictive budget, Lubetz and his team picked industrial elements, like the exterior corrugated metal paneling, concrete flooring, and exposed trusses. Each of the “building blocks” is painted the exact same bright color inside and out so that the interior is clearly communicated to the street. The bold hues make the material palette feel airy and energetic, an appropriate atmosphere for the many children who frequent the space.
Due to its location—just across the way from the community center and near the community garden—the Sharpsburg Library is a major gathering center for the little town. “It’s flexible and adaptable,” said Lubetz. “There’s a dynamic overlap between the old building and the new, the interior and the exterior, and soft and hard surfaces.”
Despite its fragmented appearance on the outside, the volumes connect fluidly on the inside, even enveloping the site’s existing structure (an Indian restaurant) without breaking the flow, making wayfinding within the library simple. “The volumes intersect like a piece of sculpture,” said Lubetz. “I like to think that there is an element of art about this place.…I’ve been around long enough to believe that architecture can be art.”
Lubetz and his team also sourced the furniture, which turned out to be a challenge. “It was tricky to find relatively inexpensive stuff that was durable and colorful—like the children’s [Verner] Panton chairs,” Lubetz explained. Front Studio designed a few pieces as well, such as the library’s main desk.
Other playful touches, like the garage door out to the courtyard and the large exterior circular cutouts, not only “bond the site to its environment,”but are meant to evoke positive emotions: “Kids love this place because it’s so vibrant,” said Lubetz. “And people still call me because they saw it driving down the street and it made them smile.”
In contrast to institutional expansions that gobble open space, Maya Lin Studio’s design for the Smith College library reduces the building's footprint to add greenery back to the campus. Two curved glassy wings will bookend the library's core and replace ungainly additions from the 1960s and 80s that restricted movement from the science quadrangle to the campus center.
The design defers to Frederick Law Olmsted's 1893 campus plan, which envisioned the campus as both a botanic garden and arboretum. The glazed facades of the two "jewel boxes" (really?) hug Neilson Library (1909) and provide complementary programs: The north wing is more social, with a digital media commons, general collections, and a cafe, while the south wing holds Smith's special collections, many of which focus on women's history. A new outdoor amphitheater and sunken courtyard on the north side will soften the gradient between in and outdoors, especially during those long New England winters. Landscape design is by Edwina von Gal in partnership with Ryan Associates.
Inside, notable features include an oculus atop the central atrium and a top-floor "skyline room" that bisects the older building's roof to offer sweeping views of the campus lake and the Holyoke Mountain Range. The reliance on natural light, Lin explained, will reduce the building's energy consumption.
Construction is expected to begin next summer and the building should be complete by fall 2020.
Opened last July, official images of the Interim Brooklyn Heights Library have been released. Designed by New York studio Leven Betts, the space will be a three-year temporary home for the branch until construction of the new library—part of a high-rise development at 280 Cadman Plaza West—is complete. The interim facility is located in the parish hall at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen Street. Development firm, The Hudson Companies is behind the project.
Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper through email, Leven Betts said how they "designed the Interim space to be a light-filled pleasant space of reading, learning, and community gathering that would function seamlessly for the branch and community while the new building was constructed." The firm also described their design strategy as "simple," aiming to "maximize the openness of the existing parish hall space while still providing for private spaces at the librarian staff area and the Multi-Purpose Room." The solution they said, "is a single translucent wall that bellies out at the ends to create the private spaces with access to light and fresh air and curves in at the middle to create a large shared open space for reading, studying and browsing books."
Using Panelit—a translucent honeycomb-like material—the wall has Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry printed onto it. Whitman's work can be read in full as it spans the wall's 100-foot length. "The response to the design has been very positive," said Leven Betts. In fact, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said: “With its bright interior and comfortable environment for attending a program, learning a new skill or simply browsing the shelves, the interim Brooklyn Heights Library is as welcoming and inspiring as the neighborhood it serves." According to Leven Betts, BPL administrators praised the quality and speed of the project (which took one year from commencement of design to completion of construction).
Leven Betts are currently working on the total renovation of two other BPL projects, one in East Flatbush Brooklyn and one in Borough Park.
With declining public interest in an outdated 1970s exposed concrete library in Lawrence, Kansas, Gould Evans worked closely with residents, downtown neighborhood groups, and the library to establish primary goals for a renovation that sought to cover a broad base of community interests. Out of this extensive dialogue, the project team identified a design concept that promoted better contextual awareness between the library and the city through a new main entryway, a more functional threshold between the library and the surrounding community, and improved energy performance. After an extensive energy modeling and analysis on the existing structure by Syska Hennessy Group, it was discovered that the building lost significant energy and lacked adequate levels of daylight due to the arrangement of exposed concrete fins that acted like a giant radiator during hot days. In response, the architects addressed performative issues and community desires with a “re-skinning” strategy that wrapped a continuous reading room around the original structure. The facade, clad with a continuous insulation barrier and a terra-cotta rainscreen system, was envisioned as a highly contextual element interfacing directly with the city. The new addition opens up to a park on the north side, while providing a new community plaza along the south elevation. Along the west facade, access to an aquatic center across the street allows the library to be easily accessed by children before and after swim meets. The main entrance is located along the east of the building, which fronts a pedestrian-oriented urban context. Formal bends, folds, and apertures of the facade assembly facilitate the structure. Terra-cotta was employed as the predominant exterior finish material by the project team to provide a modern update to adjacent historic red brick facades of Lawrence dating back to the late 1800s. The one-by-five-foot terra-cotta rainscreen panels are hung off an aluminum clip system in front of a continuous insulation barrier and trimmed cleanly at the perimeter with one-fourth-inch aluminum plate. Contrary to the imperfections of brick modules, terra-cotta is engineered with a high tolerance through controlled machining processes. Gould Evans showcases this precision through its facade design, which specifies panels in two textures: smooth and grooved. A sense of variation and depth is produced from shadow lines generated by the textured panel, which appears slightly darker than the smooth panel despite their precisely similar coloration. Windows fit compositionally into the panelization of the facade, and include terra-cotta baguettes that perform as solar louvers. Particularly notable is how the new addition interfaces with the existing structure. Utilizing the mass of the concrete building, the new addition literally hangs off of the old library along the west facade where a new column-free book deposit drive through window is located. A primary steel framework sits above the existing roof plane, creating a continuous row of clerestory windows opposite the primary exterior facade. Opening up opposing walls to natural daylight minimizes glare—essential to the reading function of the space—by creating an even distribution of light. The original facade, a series of concrete fins now along the interior of the building, is codified with a cladding of a tongue and groove ash wood. Where the public interfaces with library services, such as account assistance, stacks, children's cubbies, private meeting spaces, and the central sorting machine, the ash is selectively removed to expose an underlying concrete structure. The project is currently undergoing LEED certification. After expanding the library by 50 percent, the design team reduced energy loads on the building by nearly half. This achievement is all the more impressive when considering the original systems of the building were left in place to reduce the embodied energy of a full replacement. The building has recently been recognized with a Landmark Libraries Award by Library Journal, as well as the Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture by AIA Kansas.
Although Marcel Breuer's is most famous for designing the UNESCO Building in Paris and the Met Breuer (the former Whitney), the architect also designed a monumental public library in Atlanta. The future of that building, like so many Brutalist structures, is now in jeopardy.
It wasn't always this way. In the mid-1960s, attitudes towards the architect and his future building were solicitous: The then-director of the Atlanta library system was so impressed by the Whitney (completed in 1966) he urged the library board to invite Breuer to design the Central Library. After negotiating a 275-page program, and significant delays in funding, the project was completed in 1980. The six-story, 265,000-square-foot library featured a 300-seat theater, a restaurant, with space for more than 1,000 patrons and one million books. On the exterior, precast concrete panels are bush-hammered for texture, while inside, floors two through four are connected by a massive concrete staircase.
During the 2008 recession, the city asked voters to approve a $275 million bond referendum to expand two library branches, build eight new ones, and renovate others. If the county could come up with $50 million, over 30 percent of the bond could go towards…replacing the Breuer–designed library with another library.
Although critics like Barry Bergdoll have praised the structure as a perfect example of the "heavy lightness" that characterizes Breuer’s Bauhaus–influenced forms, the Brutalist aesthetic did not play well in Atlanta. Whether this indifference expressed itself through lack maintenance is difficult to determine, but the building has deteriorated, and programs have shrunk: In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed while the restaurant was shuttered at the end of that decade. In 2002, the city spent $5 million to renovate the building, adding colorful walls and carpeting to improve its public perception.
As preservation petitions from groups like Docomomo attest, many municipalities struggle to preserve modern architecture, especially buildings that are seen as not user-friendly, or those that are "aesthetically challenging." Stephanie Moody, the chair of Atlanta’s library board, has asked the county to consider reallocating the funds for the central library for use at other, more popular branches. The remaining cash would be used to buy land and build a new library to replace the main branch.
Moody told local blog Creative Loafing that downtown doesn’t need a library the size of Central. County commissioner Robb Pitts framed the situation bluntly: “[Funding] would be for some renovations plus the construction of a brand new Central Library to be located in Downtown Atlanta. Period,” he said. “They’re not renovating the existing one. It’s very clear that the construction [of a new one] is what the voters called for.”
Although the building is listed on the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites, its fate remains undecided, for now.