Terra cotta rain screen transforms brutalist eyesore into energy-efficient community space.Considered an aesthetic and functional failure almost since its construction in 1974, the old public library in Lawrence, Kansas, was overdue for a renovation four decades later. Gould Evans' challenge was to transform the low-slung brutalist behemoth, a poor environmental performer lacking both adequate daylighting and a sense of connection to the community, into an asset. "The desire was to try to come up with a building that basically reinvented the library for the community," said vice president Sean Zaudke. Rather than tacking an addition on to one end of the existing structure, the architects elected to wrap a 20,000-square-foot reading room and open stacks area around the old facade. In so doing, they altered the exterior for the better, swapping bare concrete for an earth-hued terra cotta rain screen punctuated by plentiful glazing. They also significantly enhanced the library's environmental performance, with early estimates suggesting that the new Lawrence Public Library will see a 50 percent reduction in energy usage despite a 50 percent increase in square footage. The decision to entirely enclose the old building within the addition was a critical component of the architects' sustainability strategy. "It allowed us to come up with a continuous facade utilizing a continuous insulation system," explained Zaudke. "It helped a lot with energy performance." Gould Evans chose a terra cotta rain screen from NBK to better tie the library to its surroundings. The building is located in an interstitial zone, immediately adjacent to buildings constructed in the 1950s but not far from Lawrence's thriving historic downtown. "We selected terra cotta because it could play by both sets of rules," said Zaudke. "It has an historic connotation, but it's also a much more modern-looking material." Daylighting was another of the architects' key concerns. "Because there were so few windows in the old library, wherever you went there was a sort of phototropic behavior," said Zaudke. "People just gathered around the windows. The rest was not as utilized." Gould Evans significantly altered the user experience by creating an open reading room within the wraparound addition, all of which is exposed to daylight. Other library functions are contained within the core, which in turn is lit both by a continuous clerestory and a series of Solatubes. The clerestory also prevents glare within the reading room by illuminating the inside of the facade. Gould Evans used prescriptive data to determine the overall balance of terra cotta to glass on the new facade—about 60/40—as well as on each exterior wall. To reduce thermal gain on the east and west faces, the architects placed terra cotta baguettes over each horizontal slit window. Together, the baguettes and the depth of the wall act as sunshades. As for Lawrence Public Library's old concrete facade, "we didn't want to just pretend it wasn't there," said Zaudke. Instead, Gould Evans partially overlaid it with a tongue-in-groove system of unstained wood. "The concrete had a harsh feel to it," explained Zaudke. "By wrapping it with wood and revealing it in places, there's this nice dialog that occurs. Everywhere it opens up is where some core function reveals itself—it's an interesting dynamic." At the library entrance, the architects brought the wood outside, encased in glass to protect it from the elements, said Zaudke. "That vocabulary of cracking open the library, of making it accessible, is present at the entry."
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A collection of grain silos and railroad tracks next to the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus is set to become a “living laboratory” for climate resilience, according to its designers and allies in city and regional government. Prospect North would be a mixed-use development with a “science park,” library, business incubators and new industrial spaces all plugged into a local power grid dedicated to the eight-acre development. Sandwiched between Highway 280 and the TCF Bank Stadium northeast, the project benefits from the recently completed Green Line—an 11-mile line that connects the Twin Cities by light rail for the first time in decades. “We saw that development was going to happen here,” Richard Gilyard, an architect working on the plan, told Next City's Rachel Dovey. So, Gilyard continued, he and other residents of the nearby Prospect Park neighborhood rallied support for a new kind of development from the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Public Housing Authority, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and the University of Minnesota, and other local players. Gilyard and others saw the former industrial area as a proving ground for afuturistic, climate resilient neighborhood-scale technologies. “You don’t have this in Cambridge or Berkeley,” said Tom Fisher, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Design, in a brochure for the project. “It’s a great opportunity for the Twin Cities to show what a 21st Century city could be like. How do we live? How do we educate ourselves? How do we live sustainably?” Prospect Park 2020 is still in planning phases. But its partnership with local agencies is rooted in previous climate action in the Twin Cities. Citing data from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the city's climate action plan warns Minneapolis could see a substantial increase in heavy precipitation due to climate change, as well as higher average temperatures. That could push already aging infrastructure past its breaking point. The plan also calls for Minneapolis to reduce energy use by 17 percent by 2025, in part by generating 10 percent of its electricity from “local, renewable sources.”
And then there were four. The committee in charge of picking a site for President Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum narrowed the playing field to four illustrious institutions of higher learning, with two in Chicago. The University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of Hawaii have until December 11 to submit their bids, just in time to kick back and sip some eggnog while the president gears up for his last two years in office.
Archtober Building of the Day #11 Glen Oaks Branch Library 256-04 Union Turnpike, Queens Marble Fairbanks The goal of libraries is to provide communities with access to resources, said Karen Fairbanks, founding partner of Marble Fairbanks. Before Fairbanks and a large team of fellow architects, landscape architects, and engineers designed the new Glen Oaks Branch Library, community members were yearning for a facility that could provide more resources that better serve their needs. Throughout the design process, the design team continued to return to the word “search”—it is projected across the facade of the building, changing its appearance based on time of day and season. Even in the age of digital resources, libraries remain hubs for people of all ages to search for answers and information. In their design, libraries today must achieve the proper balance of flexible space for programming and digital research as well as storage for printed materials. The brick library that previously stood on the site was small, uninviting, and lacked sufficient natural light. Overall, the building was not civic, said Fairbanks. The design team set out to design a new structure that appeals to library goers, and adequately represents the area’s diverse community of 30,000 people speaking 30 different languages. The intricate design on the building’s glass exterior skin, developed by a complex algorithm, spells out the word “search” in 30 different languages to signify the community’s diverse demographic makeup. Each translation is accompanied by a series of lines representing the population size of each language represented. From a distance, it looks like rows of books. Each of the building’s three levels serves a distinct group—adults, teenagers, and children. Teens primarily use the main floor and the rear garden, or outdoor reading room. After school, this area is flooded with students. They can choose from a range of furniture types and feel comfortable doing homework or socializing. An open stairway with transparent glass railings leads to the basement level where adults, the largest group of library patrons, congregate. The stairwell creates an atrium allowing light to enter the lower level. Skylights embedded in the landscaping outside, over which visitors must walk to enter the library, also bring light in to the grand basement space. The perimeter of the basement reading room is wrapped in books for easy accessibility, with intimate reading areas arranged throughout. One of two community rooms is tucked in the back of this level. The top floor, reserved for children, is the quietest floor. Fairbanks noted that the carpeting and perforated ceiling absorb sound. Smaller chairs and tables and shorter bookshelves clearly indicate the target audience. Children can access materials and librarians can monitor the whole room. An LED art piece by Janet Zweig, commissioned by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as part of the Percent for Art program, hangs from the ceiling. On it, unanswerable philosophical questions scroll overhead. The stimulating installation is meant to inspire children and engage their sense of wonder and desire to “search.” The Glen Oaks Branch Library opened to the public in September 2013. Five days a week, visitors flow naturally from the bus stop on Union Turnpike, to the sitting area outside the entrance made possible by the building’s setback on the site, and into the library. Emma Pattiz is Policy Coordinator for the AIA New York Chapter.
Archtober Building of the Day #4 Stapleton Library 132 Canal Street, Staten Island Andrew Berman Architects Libraries, according to architect Andrew Berman, principal of Andrew Berman Architect, do not age gracefully. As technological innovations and transforming communities change the role of these public institutions, fixed programmatic layouts become obsolete. During a tour of Stapleton Library in Staten Island, Berman explained that flexibility and openness became two key components that guided its renovation and expansion. Originally designed by Carrère and Hastings, fathers of the main New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, the Stapleton Library was suited to its small community. High ceilings and lofty proportions imbued the small structure with dignity, while varnished oak molding gave it a decidedly more rustic feel than its Manhattan relative. However, as Stapleton’s population increased and diversified, the Staten Island neighborhood outgrew its library, which became cluttered and poorly lit. Berman’s firm has carefully renovated the original 1907 building that now serves as a playful children’s area. The size of this space, he believes, is ideal for kids: large enough to create discrete areas for different programmatic needs. The new expansion has also doubled the space available to adult and young adult users. Afraid of compromising the building’s integrity through mimicry, Berman opted to handle the expansion as a separate structure, but one that remained in dialogue with the old. From the outside, the original masonry construction contrasts with the sleek transparency of the new space. However, Berman’s careful use of proportion allows the two structures to harmonize. Meanwhile, the library’s interior is unified through the use of wooden structural beams, which reference the moldings and shelving in the original space. Books line the walls, freeing up corridors for study tables and computers. In addition, the central mechanical core is clad in translucent polycarbonate, adding to the sense of openness. A community room is used for group study sessions, and also houses programs from arts and crafts to aerobics classes. Today, Stapleton Library is, quite literally, a beacon for its community. Berman’s expansion glows like a lantern at night, welcoming neighbors who often hang around outside even after closing hours to use the library’s Wi-Fi network. The architect hopes that the warmth, openness, and accessibility of the building will make it an inviting community space. Camila Schaulsohn is Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief of e-Oculus. She was born and raised in Santiago, Chile.
Contemporary stone envelope asserts the continued relevance of book learning at GVSU.For the new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University, SHW Group, now Stantec, considered a brick skin to tie it to the surrounding edifices. "But at the end of the day, the library, we believe, is one of the most important buildings on campus," said senior design architect Tod Stevens. "That's where we started to have a conversation about the library as it moves into the 21st century. We wanted to signal the continued importance of the library to university life." To do so, the architects designed a quartzite envelope whose random pattern of stones sits in tension with an interlaid stainless steel grid. On the building's north facade, a 40-foot-tall glass curtain wall creates an indoor/outdoor living room on the campus's main pedestrian axis, and reveals Pew Library's state-of-the-art interior to passersby. Stantec chose a multi-hued quartzite, said Stevens, as a nod to the limestone banding on many of GVSU's historic buildings. In addition, he explained, "when it rains, it brings out the red and other colors embedded in it. Even on a grey day, you can see that this building has personality and sparkle. And that red knitted it back to the other buildings as well." The architects wanted the stones set in a random pattern because, said Stevens, "the pattern really talks about the care that it takes to build this building: one stone at a time is the importance of this building." But achieving such a level of craftsmanship was easier said than done. "Nobody wants to take ownership of what it looks like," explained senior project architect Joe Mitra. "We spent a great deal of time coming up with a strategy to create that pattern. No two of the rectangular spaces are identical. Instead every stone is planned. We made shop drawings for each one." The purposefully irregular stone design is counterposed to a surrounding stainless steel grid. "This is a contemporary building, and we wanted to signal that on the stone facades," explained Stevens. "We wanted to get that snap: it's a crisp conversation between the quartzite and the metal reveals." Faux copper accents signaling entry points on the stone cladding nod to other contextual cues, including Cook Carillon Tower. With respect to installation, maintaining a constant level of humidity was a special concern, given Michigan's hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. After performing a number of moisture-migration analyses in WUFI, the architects settled on a 2 1/4 inch stone veneer backed by a 1 3/4 inch cavity and 3 1/2 inches of insulation. "The corners are mitered," noted Mitra, "so the stone looks thicker; you don't get that feel of veneer." On the north side of Pew Library, the architects pulled the massive curtain wall away from the stone to create a multi-purpose atrium. "The aspirations for LEED on this project were the highest we could get," said Stevens. "Bringing light into the building is fundamental. Flooding the library with natural light from the north was one of the drivers of the design. A side benefit," he noted, "is that when students are working late into the evening, the glass wall signals and shows their scholarly work." The triple-glazed curtain wall is hung from a twinned truss system. "We wanted the structure behind the glass to disappear," said Mitra. "It wanted to look light. We did a lot of physical models to test different systems. Ultimately, the twinned truss system at each of the column heights allowed us to have that transparency; you can see the building behind it." On the south, east, and west sides of the building, the size of the windows indicates the program within. Smaller windows mark individual study spaces, while larger apertures attach to communal meeting areas. To mitigate thermal gain, the architects employed a number of shading strategies, including horizontal sunscreens, interior motorized shades, extruded mullion caps, and 18-inch insets for the vertical punch windows. On the roof plane, Stantec created a landscaped terrace for student use. Pew Library, with its Automated Storage and Retrieval System and 31 types of indoor and outdoor seating, has been celebrated for its high-technology approach to learning. Its message—literally written in stone—is that the library is not dead. Far from it. Though it has been carefully adapted to meet the needs of today's students, GVSU's newest monument to education suggests that the university library remains a place worth celebrating, a beacon for the campus's thriving intellectual life.
June brought good weather to Cleveland, and those who rang in summer with a visit to the Cleveland Public Library encountered an airy installation of white frames and threads crisscrossing the Eastman Reading Garden. It’s not the first piece of public art to active the space outside the Cleveland Public Library. Last year a giant reading nest designed by LAND Studio and New York artist Mark Reigelman took wing in the library’s Eastman Reading Garden. This year’s piece, by X. studio founder Ivan Juarez, is the fifth installation in the library’s “See Also” public art program, which is organized with help from local designers LAND Studio. The program is funded through an endowment established by Lockwood Thompson, a former library trustee and art collector. Juarez will use almost 15,000 feet of rope before the piece comes down at the end of October. Dubbed Drawing Lines, the installation aims to help visitors “discover new spaces, shadows and frames” in the garden, per a press release from the Cleveland Public Library:
“A continuous thread will move across new and existing elements in the garden to filter the natural light and create new passages and spaces to gather and reflect. At the same time, the installation’s architecture is being broken apart. Its walls are transparent.”LAND Studio is also engaged in a makeover of Cleveland's downtown Public Square and a rails-to-trails project along Cleveland's old RTA Red Line.
After the New York Public Library scrapped Foster + Partners’ controversial redesign of its main branch—which would have removed the famous book stacks to create an atrium-like research library—the institution has announced a more modest path forward. The cost of Foster's plan was originally slated to cost $300 million, but, according to independent estimates, the final tab could have topped $500 million. Now, the project has been scaled back. The New York Times reported that in the new plan the stacks themselves will stay, but as a cost-saving measure, the books will be kept in storage under the building. An architect for the plan has not yet been announced for the project, but according to the Times, one floor of the revamped building will house a media and computer lab, and back offices will be replaced by public space. There will also be an adult education center "to focus on the needs of service workers with classes in English-language instruction, citizenship and computer training." Construction on the project is expected to take four to five years.
The Seattle Central Library celebrated its 10th anniversary this year on May 23rd with live music, free treats and refreshments, and guest appearances from some of the chief architects and minds behind the construction of the building. Regarded as the prize library of Seattle’s library system, the Seattle Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas' OMA, has also garnered criticism and acclaim for its unique architectural design. To celebrate the decade, AN has compiled a collection of ten great photos that will give the online viewer a virtual tour of Seattle's unique cathedral of reading. Unveiled to the public on May 23rd in the year 2004, the immense library can hold more than 1.4 million books and houses over 400 publically accessible computers. The library was the brainchild of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and LMN Architects who arrived at the conclusion that the library should stand out as the singular attraction of Seattle’s downtown area. The building features a glass exterior supported by a steel frame and was designed as an expression of creativity, modernism, and adaptation. The exterior of the library is unique and carries a quasi-abstract quality behind its design. The interior of the library was designed to accommodate the utilities or modern equipment on each floor, while still maintaining the integrity and basic structure of a classic library. This aspect of the library’s design is most evident in the renowned “book spiral”: a collection of non-fiction books that spans the length of four levels, ramping up in a manner similar to a parking garage. The exotic architectural design of the Seattle Central Library has been the target of praise by some critics but harsh reproach by others. Despite critique or adulation, however, the Seattle Central Library irrefutably stands today as one of the most iconic buildings in the States.
The New York Public Library has canceled its controversial renovation plan by Foster + Partners, according to a report in the New York Times. The plan, which would have removed the historic book stacks and turned the non-lending research library into a circulating library, was widely opposed by scholars, writers, and architectural historians. In addition, the library planned to sell their Mid-Manhattan branch and their Science, Industry and Business Library. Now they plan to renovate the Mid-Manhattan branch and maintain the 42nd Street Library as a research library. “When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Tony Marx, the library’s president, told the Times. Foster-designed Central Library Plan would have turned the area housing the stacks into new reading room overlooking Bryant Park. While campaigning, Mayor Bill de Blasio opposed the library plan. According to the Times, the mayor recently met with NYPL's Marx to reiterate his opposition. The Huxtable Initiative (named for the late Ada Louise Huxtable), a group of architects, critics, and historians opposed the Central Library Plan, released the following statement:
It sounds too good to be true. But it goes to show that criticism can actually change things! Ada Louise Huxtable writing in the Wall Street Journal inspired us all—and particularly prompted the formation of the Huxtable Initiative (a group of architectural journalists, critics and historians) to protest the insertion of the Foster scheme in the grand Carrere and Hastings structure. Then architecture critic Michael Kimmelman put the problem on the front burner by writing about the weaknesses of the library's plans in the New York Times. Charles Warren, the architect, advanced the discussion by revealing the engineering distinctiveness of the stacks that were about to be destroyed. And then of course, there was The Committee to Save the New York Public Library, which just never gave up. When you don't have big money, you do need a lot of perseverance and people.
Looks like Steven Holl’s impressive design for a new library in Queens, New York costs quite a bit more than expected. DNA Info reported that bids for the 21,000-square-foot project came in about $10-20 million over budget. But that doesn’t mean the project is dead just yet. While the city has nixed a planned geothermal heating and cooling system, is swapping customized interior fixtures for standard ones, and is replacing the aluminum façade with painted concrete, they say the library will stay true to its original design. Despite the changes, the library will still include an amphitheater, community room and a reading garden. A spokesperson for the Queens Public Library said a timeline will not be available until new bids are evaluated by the Department of Design and Construction.
After President Barack Obama leaves office, he’s expected to announce the location of a Presidential Library in his name. Its location has been a topic of debate for some time already, years ahead of Obama’s return to civilian life in 2017. His birthplace, Hawaii, has made a push, as has New York’s Columbia University, where Obama got his undergraduate degree in political science. Chicago, the President’s adopted hometown, is a natural frontrunner in the preemptive race, as it’s where Obama made most of his political ties and first launched his career in public service. Michael Sorkin said as much in a column for The Nation:
Chicago is clearly to be preferred. Not simply is it the city where the Obamas will presumably live post-presidency, but it is where Obama made his first deep contributions in public service and the place to which he returned to begin and advance his political mission. More, the neighborhoods bruited as choices in Chicago (half a dozen have appeared on one list or another) might all strongly benefit from the injection of institutional activity and investment.That column ended up in a proposal from Sorkin’s studio that positioned the library in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, where several large vacant sites along 63rd Street lie waiting. Just to the north is the University of Chicago, where Obama taught law. Woodlawn’s relationship with its wealthy neighbor, the University of Chicago, is famously strained. While the most contentious days of that story may be in the past, Woodlawn suffers from the same entanglement of poverty, segregation, and violence that snarls many South Side communities. As Curbed editor Sarah Cox noted, a high-profile development like the Obama Presidential Library could be a shot in the arm:
@Cementley I'm really pulling for Woodlawn now. This could be huge for the South Side. — Sarah F Cox (@xoxoCox) January 9, 2014Sorkin’s proposal attempts to address this with “the revival of Woodlawn’s main street,” 63rd Street, between Ellis and Woodlawn avenues—a three block stretch of vacant lots just steps from a Metra stop:
The Obama library has the opportunity to become a genuinely local player and to contribute to the improvement of everyday life for the neighborhoods that surround it. This will require a physical and social architecture that is supportive, not aggressive or standoffish. It offers the chance to build a model environment.It would be "the first Presidential Center to be truly urban," the proposal says. Sorkin told AN his studio drew up the proposal in preparation for a National Design Award reception at the White House. He said he handed the brochure to Michelle Obama. But it’s not the only South Side site that has drawn attention. Paula Robinson, president of Bronzeville's Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission, recently argued in the Chicago Tribune that Obama’s presidential library should land in the Michael Reese Hospital site. View the proposal, which Michael Sorkin Studio describes in the text as “highly conceptual plans,” here: MSS_Obama Library proposal