November 27, 2015

Year in Architecture 2012: Waves of the Future [8 Photo Galleries]

2012 Architecture Issue LJ

This year’s 107 completed public library building projects, like the Fountaindale Public Library District (above left), and 19 academic libraries, such as Elgin Community College’s Renner Academic Library & Learning Resources (above right)—completed between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012—display innovative design in partnership with the community and in reference to the past. The data expands to include other costs, storage capacity, and revenue sources, along with our comparative six-year summary. And imagine the ideas you will glean from these galleries of beautiful and striking images. The future is here!

Overview Architects
Academic Libraries Public Libraries Six-Year Summary
image galaries
Rockin' RotundasA Study in GraceArtisans on CampusExquisite Exteriors
Multifaceted GemsSpaces To GrowThe Best of Past and PresentModern & Modular

This is an expanded version of the Architecture Issue that appeared in print November 15, 2012.
Left opener image: The Fountaindale Public Library District, Bolingbrook, IL. Architect: Nagle Hartray Architecture.
Photo: ©2012
Right opener image: The Renner Academic Library & Learning Resources, Elgin Community College, IL. Architect: Dewberry. Photo:

This year’s library architectural landscape encompasses combination spaces, meticulous renovations and restorations, and innovative thinking in the reuse of existing structures. The 107 public library capital projects and 19 academic buildings completed between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, present fascinating and functioning responses to library service needs that are shaking up the design waterfront.

A number of libraries have gone “open concept,” featuring an atrium around which service areas revolve. The new Visitacion Valley Branch Library in San Francisco has a central atrium and arched entryways, while the Spencer Road Branch of St. Charles City–County Library District, MO, has a two-story atrium, a gas fireplace, and a water feature in what it is referring to as its Community Commons. The new Lyman Beecher Brooks Library at Norfolk State University, VA, introduced a three-story atrium along with a circular staircase, glass curtain walls, mobile service desks, and tables that are curved, waved, or elliptical. Malibu Library, CA, has retractable glass walls that open the inside space to the outside reading garden.

Perfect partnerships

Combination spaces in partnership with civic institutions keep the library at the center of the community. The Ocotillo Library and Workforce Literacy Center, Phoenix, provides one access point for the Phoenix Workforce Connection, while the Fairview Park Branch, OH, incorporated a Job & Career Center on the second floor.

The new Millcreek Community Center Library in Salt Lake City joins with a senior center and a café in a building that is state-of-the-art. Several public libraries invoke academic terminology and a unified vibe in referring to their locations as a civic campus. The new West Jordan Library and Viridian Event Center, UT, home to an outdoor amphitheater, overlaps municipal and recreational spaces. Bifold doors connect interior library areas with the outdoor event zones. The Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook, IL, was conceived as a dream environment within its “civic reality.” The South County Library in Roanoke, VA, is on a 26-acre parcel of land situated across from an elementary school, adjacent to athletic fields, and accessible by 1100 miles of pedestrian and bike trails. Even the new Chicago Theological Seminary Learning Commons is integrated with chapels and academic and administrative centers.

The renovated Ortega Branch in San Francisco is at the center of a civic plaza that resides near a playground and three schools. The Loveland Public Library, CO, has achieved Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in its civic center locale. The Ramsey County Library @ New Brighton, MN, also calls a community center collaboration home, inviting patrons to enjoy its fireplace and comfortable reading room.

Talk about partnerships, the Kent Branch of Toledo-­Lucas County Public Library transformed into a Library/Technology Access Center through a collaboration with 56 community-focused partners, e.g., Mayor Michael Bell, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and a dozen local businesses and foundations. Also, it revved up a cybermobile tech classroom on wheels.

Kid stuff

Focusing on our younger users, a creative children’s space took center stage at the renovated Farmingdale Public Library, NY, with the installation of a 500 gallon saltwater aquarium. The children’s wing at Los Gatos Library, CA, includes a pop-out teen room that is cantilevered over a plaza, providing the teens with great views.

The innovation sphere rocked with Oakland’s Rockridge Library Teen Zone, the 9800 square foot teen space at Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock, the Dansville Public Library, NY, Teen Mezzanine, and New York’s Sachem Public Library in Holbrook with its ­desTEENation.

Student unions

Academic libraries are doing their bit to offer amenities and flexibility for their clientele. Renner Academic Library at Elgin Community College, IL, focused on making connections through social spaces and lounge seating and connecting with nature through courtyard views that make the most of natural light. The Pattee and Paterno Library at Penn State has a demountable wall system that is easily scalable and reconfigurable.

The Richard J. Daley Library at University of Illinois at Chicago offers an IDEA (Information, Data, Expertise, Access) Commons for high-tech collaborations.

The Levi Watkins Learning Center at Alabama State University in Montgomery incorporates open flexible learning spaces with a wide range of exhibit options. A sunken outdoor courtyard with media walls at the Yale University Center for Science & Social Science Information combines three formerly separate spaces.

Innovate while renovating

Many of this year’s projects are targeting LEED certification for sustainability or have already achieved it—Topanga Library, CA, Gold; West Hollywood Library, CA, Gold; Manoa Public Library, HI, Gold; Patrick Heath Public Library, Boerne, TX, Gold; and Franklin Avenue Library, Des Moines, reaching a LEED Platinum rating. The Old Town Library in Fort Collins, CO, has carried through on its dream of net-zero energy usage.

The “greenest” library, however, is often the one created from an existing structure and making adaptive reuse of that ­building. The Lincoln Branch in Peoria, IL, is a restored 1911 Carnegie building, plus a 12,000 square foot addition that features a hot-air balloon theme in the story time room.

Major building projects have brought New Orleans back in part with four new libraries that replaced facilities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center project managed to restore a historic bungalow and add a library space. The Stone County Library in Crane, MO, is the result of the remodel of a 100-year-old historic-district structure, and the Washington Public Library, MO, reconnected two floors of what was formerly the library and the police department. A new central staircase with glass railings, clerestory windows, a new entryway, and a children’s garden/plaza update the facility. The Sherburne Public Library, NY, project restored a 1911 Carnegie building that was originally designed by Edward Lippincott ­Tilton.

Problem-solving while preserving

After converting a 10,000 square foot chain restaurant, the Union Township Branch in Cincinnati established laptop “touchdown areas” so patrons can make use of the building’s Wi-Fi service. The Allendale County Library, SC, was an auto-parts store, and the Otay Ranch Branch Library in Chula Vista, CA, has a three-year “rent free” lease on its former pizza restaurant shopping center site. The Mesa County Palisade Branch, Grand Junction, CO, started out as a lumber yard, but the most impressive conversion project has to be the McAllen Public Library, TX, which transformed an abandoned Walmart store into a 124,000 square foot library, the biggest single-level library in the country.

With movable furnishings, transportable stacks, and flexible configurations, this year’s library buildings were designed for long-term service and room to grow. Creativity, innovation, and a big wave to the future.



A4 Architects,
Carbondale, CO; 970-963-6760;

Adjaye Associates, New York; 212-965-8420;

Aguirre Roden, Inc., Austin, TX; 512-478-3020;

Alley Poyner Macchietto, Omaha; 402-341-1544;

Apicella + Bunton LLC, New Haven, CT; 203-777-2121;

arcari + iovino architects, Little Ferry, NJ; 201-641-0600;

Architecnics, Inc., Quincy, IL; 217-222-0554;

Architectural Nexus, Inc., Salt Lake City; 801-924-5000;

Architectural Resource Group, Fort Collins, CO; 970-484-0124

Architectural Resources Group, Inc., San Francisco; 415-421-1680;

Architecture Plus Inc., Honolulu; 808-945-2311


Baker, Bednar, Snyder & Associates
, Warren, OH; 330-856-7222;

BCWH, Richmond; 804-788-4774;

Beatty, Harvey, Coco Architects, LLP, Hauppauge, NY; 631-300-1010;

Beatty, Harvey, Coco Architects, LLP, New York; 212-213-1339;

Belford Watkins Group, Fort Collins, CO; 970-212-1242;

Benjamin Design Collaborative, PC, Ames, IA; 515-232-0888;

BHDP Architecture, Cincinnati; 513-271-45202;

Bleigh Construction, Hannibal, MO; 573-221-2247;

Bostwick Design Partnership, Cleveland; 216-621-7900;

Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc., Maumee, OH; 419-893-9021;


Carpet One
, Modesto, CA; 209-523-5664

Carlson, West, Povandra, Omaha; 402-551-1500;

CAS Architecture (Chad Alexander Smith), Grayson, GA; 678-646-7736;

CBLH Design, Cleveland; 440-243-2000;

Larry Chilese, Lincoln, NE; 402-474-6885

Clark Nexsen, Norfolk, VA; 757-455-5800;

Colley Architects, Blacksburg, VA; 540-953-2724;

Collins Cooper Carusi, Atlanta; 404-873-0001;

Colome & Associates, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL; 561-833-9147;

Cornerstone Architecture, Saint Peters, MO; 636-244-4045;

Crafton Tull, Oklahoma City; 405-787-6270;

Craig Gaulden Davis, Greenville, SC; 864-242-0761;

Crawford & Stearns, Syracuse, NY; 315-471-2162;


Janice Davis Design LLC
, Brooklyn; 917-520-7354;

Joe DeVorss Construction, Spickard, MO 64679; 660-635-0585

Dewberry Architects Inc., Elgin, IL; 847-695-5840;

durkin + durkin, llc, Phoenix; 602-254-8644;


Ellis, Ricket & Associates, Valdosta, GA; 229-242-3556;

Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans; 504-561-8686;


Farnsworth Group
, Peoria, IL; 309-689-9888;

FEH Associates, Inc., Sioux City, IA; 712-252-3889;

Ford3 Architects, LLC, Princeton, NJ; 609-924-0043;


Gant Brunnett Architects
, Baltimore; 410-234-8444;

Gensler, Boston; 617-619-5744;

Gensler, Houston, TX; 713-844-0000;

Gkk Works, Pasadena, CA; 626-666-6906;

Gould Evans, San Francisco; 415-503-1411;

Gould Evans Affiliates, P.A., Kansas City, MO; 816-931-6655;

Group 4 Architecture, Research + Planning, Inc., South San Francisco; 650-871-0709;


H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
, New York; 212-677-6030;

Harley Ellis Devereaux, Chicago; 312-951-8863;

Harvard Jolly Architecture, St. Petersburg, FL; 727-896;4611;

hatch ulland + owen, Austin, TX; 512-474-8548;

HBM Architects, Cleveland; 216-241-1100;

HGA Architects & Engineers, Minneapolis; 612-758-4000;

Calvin L. Hinz, Architects, PC, Elkhorn, NE; 402-291-6941;

HMC, Ontario, CA; 909-989-9979;

Horn Architects, Washington, MO; 636-239-0309;

Humphries Poli Architects, Denver; 303-607-0040;

Hutteball & Oremus, Kirkland, WA; 425-828-8948;


jdms, inc., Sumter, SC; 803-773-3318;

Johnson Favaro, Culver City, CA; 310-559-5720;

JRCA Architects, Inc., Salt Lake City; 801-533-2100;


KA Oldham Design Inc.
, Newnan, GA; 770-683-9170;

KBA, Inc., Cincinnati; 513-752-7800;

Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt, Syracuse, NY; 305-446-9205;

Klingner Associates, Quincy, IL; 217-223-3670;


LaBella Associates
, PC, Rochester, NY; 585-454-6110;

Lee Ledbetter & Associates, New Orleans; 504-566-9669;

Lerner Ladds Bartels, Pawtucket, RI; 401-421-7715;

LPA Architecture, Irvine, CA; 949-261-1001;

LWPB Architecture, Oklahoma City; 405-722-7270;


McGEE DESIGNHOUSE, Inc. (Melinda McGee)
, Carmel, IN; 317-502-6763;

MHTN Architects, Inc., Salt Lake City; 701-595-6700;

Moody Nolan (Mark R. Beebe), Indianapolis; 317-916-4082;

Moseley Architects, Virginia Beach; 757-368-2800;

MS&R Ltd. (Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.), Minneapolis; 612-375-0336;


Nagle Hartray Architecture
, Chicago; 312-425-1000;

NHB Group, LLC, Birmingham, AL; 205-264-9988;

Noll & Tam Architects, Berkeley, CA; 510-542-2200;


OCO Architects, San Antonio; 210-829-1737;

Office Interiors & Design, Lincoln, NE; 402-484-7500;

OZ Architecture, Denver; 303-861-5704;


Pacific Design Associates, Inc.
, Modesto, CA; 209-557-2288;

Paragon Architecture Inc., Springfield, MO; 417-885-0002;

Paulett Taggart Architects, San Francisco; 415-956-1116;

Perry Dean Rogers | Partners Architects, Boston; 617-423-0100;

Poepping Stone Bach & Associates, Quincy, IL; 217-223-4605;

John Portman & Associates, Atlanta; 404-614-5555;

Precision Planning, Inc., Lawrenceville, GA 30046; 770-338-8178;


rich ä rd+bauer architecture, llc, Phoenix; 602-264-1955;

Riemenschneider Design/Quinn Evans Architects, Ann Arbor, MI; 734-663-5888;

Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates, Fort Mitchell, KY; 859-331-3121;

RQAW Corporation (Mark R. Beebe), Indianapolis; 317-815-7200;


San Francisco Department of Public Works Building Design and Construction
, San Francisco; 415-554-4829;

Scott | Edwards Architecture LLP, Portland, OR; 503-226-3617;

SHKS Architects, Seattle; 206-675-9151;

Slattery & Associates Architects Planners, Boca Raton, FL; 561-392-3848; www.slatteryarchitectscom

Daniel Sloan, Des Moines; 515-255-3939;

Stocks Mann Architects, PLC, Little Rock, AR; 501-370-9207;

Studiotrope Design Collective, Denver; 303-308-1144;


Tappe Associates, Inc., Boston; 617-451-0200;

Tom Eliot Fisch, San Francisco; 415-391-7918;


Van Dyke Architects
, Cleveland; 216-566-5455;

Vance Hunt Libraries, Grand Prairie, TX; 972-641-9598;


Weinstein AU Architects
, Seattle; 206-443-8606;

Wiencek & Associates, Washington, DC; 202-349-0742;

Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects, LLC, Kearney, NE; 308-237-5787;

David Woodhouse Architects, Chicago; 312-943-3120;

WTWArchitects, Pittsburgh; 412-321-0550;

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Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox ( is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Celebrating her 43rd year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ’s Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews.

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