November 22, 2017

East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library at Goodwood | New Landmark Libraries 2015 Winner

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A Library That Listens

East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library at Goodwood | Louisiana
ARCHITECT: Library Design Collaborative: Cockfield Jackson | Tipton Associates | Dewberry

Vitals

OPENED: 2014
TOTAL SQUARE FEET: 129,000
COST: About $41 million
GOAL: LEED Gold Certification

When the opportunity came to rebuild the Main Library at Goodwood, headquarters for the library system in Baton Rouge, LA, library staff and administration fully engaged their community in a dialog about what and where their new central library should be. Built on the pay-as-you-go model, without bonds or other indebtedness, the resulting new 129,000 square foot building is fully integrated into the city’s Independence Park.

Library officials considered moving downtown, but residents wanted the library to stay in the park, where the original building was located. This created more opportunity to foster a partnership with the East Baton Rouge Parks and Recreation Commission (BREC). The library’s outdoor plaza physically connects it to the BREC teaching building and features reflecting pools and outdoor sunscreens. Because of the library’s invigorating presence and an increase in park use, the BREC teaching building now boasts a café. It will soon also boast a mini­collection of relevant library materials on-site and feature joint educational programming with library staff. Throughout the phased building process, architects and contractors participated in special “Construction Junction” story times. This inspiring and educational effort taught library visitors about sustainable construction of the building and its impact on the park.

The building contributes to the beauty and the health of the park. Infinitely recyclable zinc cladding can handle Louisiana’s harsh sun and heavy rains. Two large green roofs lessen the library’s impact on storm water drainage. White, durable, heat-reflective thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofs help reduce the local heat island effect. Around the building, bioswales further reduce the quantity and improve the quality of runoff.

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The public wanted a variety of spaces for different uses, and the library responded. Users now have over 70 seating options throughout the building—many finished in flora- and fauna- inspired designs. Groups as small as four and as large as 300 can meet in relative privacy. Tables are stackable, meeting room chairs are light enough for one person to lift, and much of the ­furniture and shelving units are on wheels, so the spaces are easily reconfigured, and smart placement means many of them can be used for multiple purposes. The staff lounge is located next to the public roof garden, so it can do double duty for catering special events on the roof. One of the larger meeting rooms connects to the covered stage that connects to the plaza outside.

Color is used to designate spaces, from the vibrant children’s area to a more subdued teen zone. Youth and teen input directly shaped these rooms. For instance, young users didn’t want a reading tree, they wanted an amusement park. This led designers to create a Barisol “ribbon” of changing Traxon LED lights coupled with twinkling stars in the ceiling over holographic column covers. Teens unexpectedly expressed a desire for a calm, quiet room that could serve as a “time-out” space.

When the area population shifted following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the city’s adult illiteracy rate and demands for career and workforce development increased. In the new library, the Career Center, ESL collection, and adult new reader materials are now located prominently on the second floor, next to the elevators. This spotlights these special services to at-risk populations, and use of these collections has more than tripled.—Emily Puckett Rodgers

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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What is Design Thinking?
From space planning, redesigning services and staffing, to developing more user-centric approaches, design thinking can help you problem-solve through ingenuity and creativity, and better understand and serve your patrons. Our introductory online workshop, Demystifying Design Thinking is designed for library professionals who want to take a fresh approach to tackling their library’s challenges through human-centered design.