When the City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, had an opportunity to rebuild the Jasper Place Branch of the Edmonton Public Library, (EPL) it aspired to create an open and memorable presence that considered the question: “What is a library that has no books?” In response to this provocative inquiry, the new branch provides the established suburban neighborhood with a new social heart. While the resulting library does not literally lack a print collection, compared to the library it replaces, it is twice as big yet holds fewer titles than the old building. Architectural features, such as extra wide stairs, pull double duty in this new building—serving both functional and social needs by offering space for patrons to sit.
This library vibrates with the energy of its community. Situated in the center of the 9.5-acre Virginia Avenue Park, the Pico Branch Library embraced the “community living room” concept design driven by the people in the surrounding neighborhood, always the first step to creating a destination library. Did it work? The 1,372 new library patrons registered in the first eight months of the life of this new building say yes.
The leadership at Fort Vancouver Regional Library District in Vancouver, WA, realized how quickly and drastically the library can change. With this in mind, the new Vancouver Community Library, completed in 2012, was built to evolve with technology as well as the library’s perceptive role in the community.
Welcome to the latest round of the New Landmark Libraries (NLL). It’s been four years since the NLL project launched, first identifying 20 public libraries and the following year seven academic libraries from nationwide to help inform and inspire those facing the opportunity of renovating or building a new library. This year, LJ returns to the public library arena to pinpoint the most exciting public libraries completed since that initial foray. We received more than 80 submissions from across the United States and Canada. The exceptional quality of these submissions, from every region, showcases the evolving strength of public libraries today.
To find a public library built for the future, look no further than the Mitchell Park Library & Community Center. After a decade of community-based planning, input from hundreds of residents and municipal officials, a public bond measure that passed by a supermajority, and millions raised in corporate and individual donations, Palo Alto has achieved a smart building housing a sustainably designed library that is positioned to serve the community for generations to come.
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.
After 45 years of service, Madison’s Central Library building was on the eve of renovation. But, first, it needed a proper send-off. In early 2012, library administrators invited nearly 100 artists to invade the space, using interactive space design and gently used library materials to turn the then-empty building’s industrial husk into a 95,000 square foot temporary art gallery and party space. The ensuing celebration, called Bookless, served as the building’s Viking funeral, bringing 5,000 people together on a chilly February weekend to kick off the space’s metamorphosis.
There is a lot of wow at the new library at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, which boasts over 150,000 square feet—but the building holds a secret surprise that exemplifies the creativity of the overall project in just over 1,000 square feet. Tucked in the heart of the building on the third floor and reaching to the sky is a gem of an open-air courtyard that takes the breath away even as it must soothe a study-stressed brain.