Despite a year of massive library cutbacks and closures, library buildings--and public support for them--endure.
Built to last, many new constructions, such as the Eugene Public Library (cover and right), incorporate energy-saving technologies and environmentally friendly materials; other projects extend the life of historic facilities by bringing them up-to-date technologically while carefully maintaining their architectural integrity.
Of the dozens of recent projects the editors learned about in the last year, American Libraries' Facilities Showcase 2003 features a selection of 39 buildings, large and small.
Included this year--and noted with a blue ribbon--are the seven 2003 AIA/ALA Library Buildings Award winners. Cosponsored since 1963 by the American Institute of Architects and ALA's Library Administration and Management Association, the biennial program recognizes buildings that use different methods to succeed yet share a strong aesthetic sensibility and conviction about the importance of library as institution and place.
"We went through a period a number of years ago where people were questioning if there would be libraries," said Geoffrey Freeman--a partner with Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, designers of the Eugene library--in the March 2 Chicago Tribune. "Everything would be digital, they said. We've gotten away from that and shown what happens when we integrate information in a service environment."
At the Saint Paul (Minn.) Central Library--a landmark building that had seen no significant remodeling since its opening in 1917--a complete renovation by Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle cleaned and preserved historical features, modernized the technical infrastructure, and made a number of changes to better organize its space. Doubled in size, the youth services area gained more collection space and reclaimed a beloved carved wooden puppet stage that was added in 1949. Photo by Farshid Assassi.
Above, the Eugene Public Library incorporates liberal use of natural daylight, recycled materials, and state-of-the-art ventilation strategies. Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott and Robertson Sherwood Architects designed the $26.5-milion, 127,500-square-foot project. Below, the principal purpose of a three-year, $30-million restoration of the Boston Athenaeum was the installation of a climate-control system to protect the library's collections, like those housed in the Albert Gordon Reading Room. Founded in 1807, the Athenaeum has been in its current home since the the building was completed in 1849. Schwartz/Silver Architects managed the project.
Right, the William C. Herrick Community Health Care Library, housed in the Grossmont Health Care Center at Briercrest Park in La Mesa, California, provides free public access to current medical information. Serving patients, their families, and the general community, the 4,590-squarefoot facility by McGraw/Baldwin Architects is a modern building of glass, wood, and stone, with high ceilings, private meeting rooms, and plenty of bright reading areas.
Below right, a renovation of, and 43,000-square-foot addition to, the O'Malley Library at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York, turned an outmoded 1938 building into the academic center of campus. Upgrades to the original facility included central air conditioning, new lighting, wiring, refurbished finishes, and the transformation of old spaces into new uses--like this computer lab. Edward I. Mills and Associates and Perkins Eastman Architects designed the $18.2-million project.
Above, described as "well articulated and sensitively designed" by Hartman-Cox Architects in Washington, D.C., the Jefferson Library at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, serves as the library for Jefferson's home a half-mile down the road, with a majestic reading room and a focus on detailing. AIA/ALA judges said the research facility's design shows sensitivity to the sloping site and to utilizing appropriate massing and scale in creating a campus setting. …