Applauding Excellence in Design: The 1997 AIA/ALA Building Awards

By Dreazen, Elizabeth | American Libraries, April 1997 | Go to article overview

Applauding Excellence in Design: The 1997 AIA/ALA Building Awards


Dreazen, Elizabeth, American Libraries


WINNING BUILDINGS INCLUDE NEW FACILITIES, ONE CONVERSION, AND TWO RENOVATIONS

One major characteristic shared by this year's winners of the Library Buildings Award Program is the application of bold architectural solutions to the challenges of planning for 21st-century technology while responding to the needs of user communities.

The seven winning library buildings include four new facilities, one conversion of a nonlibrary building to library use, and two renovations. The biennial awards for excellence in library architecture have been jointly sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and ALA since 1963. The awards recognize distinguished accomplishment in library architecture by an American architect for any library without regard to location or library type.

The 1997 jury met in Washington, D.C., February 20-21 to select the winners from the 136 entries in this year's competition. The jury, consisting of three librarians and three architects with extensive experience in library building, was chaired by Andrea P. Leers, of Leers Weinzapfel Associates, Boston. The other jurors for the 18th AIA/ALA Library Buildings Awards were Rodney M. Hersberger, California State University/Bakersfield; Jo Ann Pinder, Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library; Joseph H. Powell, of Buell Kratzer Powell Ltd. architects, Philadelphia; Rob Wellington Quigley, of R.W. Quigley architects, San Diego; and Cy Silver, Cy Silver & Associates Library Facilities Planning, Berkeley, California. The winners are:

Great Northwest Branch Library, San Antonio, Texas, designed by Lake/Flato Architects, San Antonio; Sharon Soderquist, library director. This new 13,150-square-foot branch library is located in a suburban area where the open, flat South Texas plains meet the tree-covered, limestone-rich hill country. Working within a tight construction budget, the architects used a combination of indigenous stone and refined metal to create interior and exterior contrasts thai evoke both the library's rural setting and its utilitarian function. The jury called this "a superb example of the best of regional architecture that works at every level."

New York Public Library, Tottenville Branch, Staten Island, designed by Stephen D. Weinstein/John Ellis & Associates Joint Venture Architects, New York City; Michael Loscalzo, library director. The renovation/restoration of this popular 6,645-square-foot branch library enhances the historic character of the 1904 building while adding state-of-the-art technology, providing additional staff space and an enlarged story room, and creating elegant, unobtrusive access for people with disabilities. The judges admired both the quality of the restoration and the "imaginative set of new interventions" that reflect intelligent choices by the architects in a limited series of changes.

Paul Cummins Library at Cross-roads School, Santa Monica, California, designed by Steven Ehrlich Architects, Santa Monica; Linda Demmers, library director. Occupying a difficult site on a private alley that doubles as a parking lot and courtyard in which students gather, this new 12,000-square-foot library invites students in through a two-story periodical reading room shaded by a steel canopy. An open stair and mezzanine lookout beckon students to the second level that houses the library proper. The building's exterior features a series of folded planes of blue plaster that descend in elevation from a peak at the rear. Vibrant yellow exposed structural steel framing intersects an inclined wall. The jury commended the architects for capturing the energy and vitality of its student population in a "lively, informal, exuberant building" that enhances its urban setting.

Phoenix (Ariz.) Central Library, designed by William P. Bruder-Architect, Ltd., New River, Arizona; DWL Architects, Phoenix, associate architect; Toni Garvey, library director. Given the charge to design a library that would function until the year 2040 and beyond, the architects created an imaginative new vision of a major modern library. …

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