February 17, 2018

LJ Design Institute, Dallas: Design Challenges

By Staff

Library By Design Spring 2010: Design Institute Dallas. Large photo by Ed Lallo/Getty ImagesWilliam T. Cozby Public Library Coppell, TX


THE CHALLENGE The William T. Cozby Public Library, Coppell, TX, has been at its current two-story, 28,000 square foot location since 1995 and was last renovated in 2005. The addition of a new high school and town plaza, together with the library’s increased programming, now necessitate an expansion nearly doubling the library in size, as well as numerous renovations. The main issue is acoustics: the multigenerational makeup of the community "generates a certain amount of noise and traffic," said Jane Darling, who oversees the library’s daily operations (Director Kathleen Metz Edwards, Assistant Director Victoria Chiavetta, and supervisor of public services Ellen Ko also attended the session). Another problem is the design of the curved, hard-surfaced ceiling covering most of the public area: it both magnifies sound and, as heat rises, leaves library users cold. And lighting, too, is an issue, as the high-intensity discharge (HID) fixtures’ color temperatures change over time and at different rates.

THE BRAINSTORM "If librarians were involved in the initial planning of this building, they definitely weren’t listened to," said PSA-Dewberry director of library architecture Denelle Wrightson (standing), who brought with her firm architect Jennifer Joseph and LEED-certified interior designer Lenda Sturdivant. The trio presented two design schemes: one entails a southward expansion—perhaps there is an opportunity to use some of the school district’s land?—the other, an upward, multistory strategy. Wrightson favored the former because of its cheaper cost (with a multistory expansion, there is also the expense and maintenance of elevators to consider). Proposed acoustics solutions included a sound-masking system, sprayed-on acoustical, and fabric-wrapped acoustical panels. "Dropping in flat planes of acoustical panels at varying heights between the [building’s] beams would solve the lighting, acoustics, and HVAC problems—and create an interesting ceiling," Wrightson said. The next step, the group agreed, was for an acoustician to run sound through the 3-D models, to see how it disperses.—Raya Kuzyk

Library By Design Spring 2010: Design Institute Dallas. Large photo by Ed Lallo/Getty ImagesGoshen County Library Torrington, WY

ARCHITECT Humphries Poli Architects

THE CHALLENGE Expand the existing 7000 square foot library (renovated in 1999), which sits on a windy corner, incorporating an adjoining parking lot and a 3000 square foot former city hall (to be acquired), to make room for many more computers and a separate teen section.

THE BRAINSTORM Architects Dennis Humphries (standing) and Ryan Wallace from Humphries Poli (seated), Group 3 Planners’ Mary Gulash (also standing), Goshen director Isabel Hoy (far right), and two separate groups of librarians explored three options for this rural community serving a county of 12,000: a new infill construction, all on one level, connecting the current building and the old city hall, for a total of 14,000 square feet; a two-level new construction that would demolish both the city hall and the existing library; and a two-level addition (13,000 square feet) to a newly renovated current library (20,000 square foot total). Each met the basic objectives for expansion that included a separate teen center, and each featured a cybercafé and "service station" instead of a circulation desk for quick consultation. Each option also aimed toward a LEED Silver rating, considering such sustainable choices as reuse of the current building, solar panels, and a green roof.

Hoy pointed out the benefit of the current location in a small town like Torrington. "I think it is important for the library to remain as an anchor to the main street businesses…and within walking distance to the county courthouse to the north, the Senior Friendship Center to the south, and the theater to the west."

Ultimately, the group settled on reusing the existing building and constructing a two-story addition that does not require additional land. Another appeal was turning the current curved but too windy entry into an architectural "landmark" for the community (moving the actual entrance farther up the block), with a glass front to allow passers-by to see activity inside the building. That curved corner, says Hoy, is something "that people in our community recognize as the public library."—Francine Fialkoff

Library By Design Spring 2010: Design Institute Dallas. Large photo by Ed Lallo/Getty ImagesHouston Academy of Medicine—Texas Medical Center Library

ARCHITECT Holzheimer Bolek + Meehan ¦ Architects

THE CHALLENGE The Houston Academy of Medicine—Texas Medical Center (HAM-TMC) Library rents 76,000 square feet over three floors from its parent institution and is composed of two parts: the original 1954 structure, which takes up two floors, and a 1974 addition, attached to the former structure on an east/west seam. Both the library’s interior and exterior require reconfiguration to accommodate changes in media and technology and a reduction in stack space as well as to improve overall functionality and ease of use.

THE BRAINSTORM Architects Peter Bolek (above) and Dan Meehan (Holzheimer Bolek + Meehan)—who brought with them strategic partner Miro Petrovic (director, Gossen Livingston Architecture)—suggested developing a more convenient entry to the west of the building, expanding the existing spiral stairwell to provide access to all building levels, upgrading the HVAC system, and implementing a daylight harvesting system. For the first floor, they proposed the offices be partitioned into small, open study spaces and the service desk be situated more centrally. They also spoke to the possibility of a café and an exhibit space. For the second floor, they saw an opportunity to build solid meeting rooms with movable partitions. HAM-TMC Library developmental director Martha Grady further offered that an area in the basement could be used for day care or 24-hour video access. Suggestions from attendees included greater flexibility within the collaborative work spaces and consideration of noise control. Meehan said the design of the entryway should be intuitive, so that "you really want to go up to the main level and that once you’ve arrived at the main level, you’ve really arrived," while Bolek stressed the elements of customizability, flexibility, functionality, and comfort in all aspects of the building’s redesign.—Raya Kuzyk

Library By Design Spring 2010: Design Institute Dallas. Large photos by Ed Lallo/Getty ImagesLee Davis Library Pasadena, TX

ARCHITECT Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.

THE CHALLENGE Built in 1967, the Lee Davis Library has all the hipness of the era in which it was born. Trouble is, this San Jacinto College—Central Campus beauty is hidden and space poorly used. Library director Karen Blankenship (bottom left) and reference librarian April Becker had a laundry list of issues, starting with the main entrance: it is on the wrong side, leaving students at this two-year college to tunnel through back hallways to get to service points and the collection. Once inside, said service points are more like forts than places for collaboration and learning. Students also find broad swathes of square footage "basically empty" in several big bays. Any discomfort is then exacerbated by uncontrolled western light streaming through soaring arched windows and an open floor plan that means good sight lines but also unbuffered sound. The pros? "The original space is very cool," with a signature spiral staircase at its heart, some designer furniture still in good shape, and lots of room with which to play.

THE BRAINSTORM Ideas flew when the group took over. Participants wondered if it was possible to turn the building around, in a sense, so students would be more welcome when approaching from the green, grassy campus. MS&R’s Jack Poling ( top l.) discussed a desire to reveal the campus-side façade, also grand, that is currently blocked from view by a series of covered walkways. Shy of that, reconfiguring the floor plan to include a café at the student entrance and bringing key service points closer to that side of the first floor would make the library more welcoming to its prime constituents. Other fixes for the key problems included smaller desks with dual screens for reference work, a light well to draw daylight to the center of the building, and the creation of private spaces for students to work collaboratively. MS&R’s Sean Wagner (top r. and Poling also suggested controlling the western exposure and instead opening the building up to the more pleasant eastern light.—Rebecca Miller

Library By Design Spring 2010: Design Institute Dallas. Large photo by Ed Lallo/Getty ImagesRapid City Public Library, SD

ARCHITECT Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture

THE CHALLENGE The campus of Western Dakota Tech (WDT) is destined to become the site of a dual-purpose library branch through a partnership among the school, Rapid City Public Library (RCPL), and Pennington County. Housed in what will also be the school’s admin building, the library will need to welcome and respond to the needs of the public as well as the 1200 students being served. The shared facility itself is to become an inspiring landmark for WDT. On the public side, the library will serve as a branch of RCPL, extending toward the rural community beyond the town’s edge, with users across the age spectrum. On the academic side, the library will need to address a large online component as well as manage a collaborative learning space and more. Library director Greta Chapman expressed interest in an open and flexible area to support the various populations in the library’s expected 12,000 square feet.

THE BRAINSTORM Architect Malcolm Holzman and principal Patricia Chen (above, far r.) tuned the group into the key principles of thinking about a new project like this. Discussion considered siting and orientation, including the need for the library to have a prominent location at the main entrance, given a highway running next to it, to heighten public access from it and the public parking lot while enabling students to use the facility with ease. The group touched on the value of a shared lobby, an atrium perhaps, to foster a warm connective spot during the long cold season. Participants agreed it would be critical inside the library to separate quite study spaces from noisy patron populations such as kids and teens and address the needs of seniors. They vote, one participant noted, so "you want them to come." Holzman touched on the planning process, which calls for extended discussion of objectives, that, he said, enables a more effective design. The "result [will be] a building that is at least functional. Then the more aspirational aspects can follow."—Rebecca Miller

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