Magazine article American Libraries

From the Past, the Future

Magazine article American Libraries

From the Past, the Future

Article excerpt

Welcome to the 2015 Library Design Showcase, American Libraries' annual celebration of new and renovated libraries. These are shining examples of innovative architecture that address user needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways. New construction dominated this year's submissions, but renovated and repurposed spaces were a close second, showing how today's libraries are both conserving existing resources and adapting to economic realities.


The John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

[A] Built in 1910, the John Hay Library at Brown University was brought into the present with recent renovations. In addition to enhanced research spaces in the main reading room and special collections room, the library added a new ADA-accessible entrance and safety and security features that are integrated into the historic building's original architecture.

PROJECT: Renovation

ARCHITECT: Selldorf Architects

SIZE: 78,961 square feet

COST: $15 million

PHOTO: Brown University

Sawyer Library at Stetson Hall, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts

[B] The massive library complex at Williams College is a marriage of the traditional and modern. After demolishing a 1970s-era library building, the college united the historic Stetson Hall with a modern five-story facility housing the new Sawyer Library, the Chapin Library of Rare Books, and the Center for Education Technology.

PROJECT: Renovation and expansion

ARCHITECT: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

SIZE: 178,000 square feet

COST: $66.8 million

PHOTO: Peter Aaron

Mary Helen Cochran Library, Sweet Briar (Va.) College

[C] Renovations to the 1929-built Mary Helen Cochran Library restore the building to architect Ralph Adams Cram's original vision. A 1967 wing that obscured Cram's design was replaced with a structure built from masonry, slate, and brick used throughout campus. The addition enhances sightlines to campus and increases interior natural lighting by opening up windows blocked by the old construction.

PROJECT: Renovation and expansion

ARCHITECT: VMDO Architects, P. C.

SIZE: 54,000 square feet

COST: $8.8 million

PHOTO: Ansel Olsen


Southeast Branch, Nashville Public Library, Antioch, Tennessee

[D] The Southeast Branch of Nashville Public Library is housed in a former J. C. Penney department store. Sharing the space with a community center, it has a makerspace with 3D printer and a 24-hour-accessible lobby with touchscreen displays to access downloadable materials.

PROJECT: Adaptive reuse


SIZE: 25,000 square feet

COST: $18.4 million

PHOTO: Tonda McKay

Northside Library, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Charlottesville, Virginia

[E] HBM Architects transformed a steel structure built in 1988 that once served as a building supply store into the Northside Library. Warm colors and bright accents disguise the space's former use, and new skylights and a glass wall bring natural light and transparency to the facility.

PROJECT: Adaptive reuse


SIZE: 36,500 square feet

COST: $11.8 million

PHOTO: Steve Trumbull

Library 21c, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs, Colorado

[F] Pikes Peak Library District breathed new life into a space vacant for decades, creating a hands-on learning facility with 3D printers, sewing machines, video game development capabilities, a 400-seat venue for presentations, audio and visual recording studios, and an e-help center.

PROJECT: Adaptive reuse

ARCHITECT: Humphries Poli Architects

SIZE: 112,883 square feet

COST: $10.7 million

PHOTO: Humphries Poli Architects


Clareview Branch, Edmonton (Alberta) Public Library

[G] The City of Edmonton and Edmonton Public Library joined forces to create a joint branch library and recreation center. …

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