March 17, 2018

Year in Architecture 2013: Something for Everyone [8 Photo Galleries]

This year’s listing of library building projects completed between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, expands on the concept of all-purpose spaces to suit a variety of patrons and needs. There are 77 public efforts, and among the 14 academic buildings is the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI (above), which allows students to invent their own environments. A banquet of libraries with that all-important, all-purpose ingredient.

Overview Architects
Academic Libraries Public Libraries Six-Year Summary
image galaries

This is an expanded version of the Architecture Issue that appeared in print November 15, 2013.
Opener image: The Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI.
Architect: SHW Group; photo by James Haefner.


All-purpose flour. That was likely my first experience of the term all-purpose, which, according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., came into use in 1928. Television commercials in my youth were usually hyping ways to make a homemaker’s life easier, and what could be better for preparing nutritious family dinners than a single ingredient that would function in numerous baking situations?

LJ’s annual roundup of completed library building projects brings to mind that phrase. The 14 academic library and 77 public library construction projects featured here, completed between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, demonstrate that quality by virtue of their vision and design, basically providing something for everyone.

For all ages

The new East Rancho Dominquez Library, County of Los Angeles Public Library, owing to its colorful and attractive design, has become a highly visible landmark, with a large, inviting children’s area, a separate teen space, a “Family Place,” and a community meeting room. The Lemon Grove Branch of San Diego County Library, a joint-use facility with the Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities, has quiet study and computer rooms, as well as a community space and kitchen that open onto the landscaped Poet’s Patio. The Bayview Branch of the San Francisco Public Library has an enclosed, outdoor courtyard; separate teen and children’s areas; and a program room with after-hours access for community groups. The remodeled Queens Library at Bayside, NY, required the creation of three distinct zones (adults, teens, and children) within an open footprint so that they “had their own identity yet made a cohesive design statement.” The Ludington Library, Bryn Mawr, PA, set up shop with a reading porch, an exhibition gallery, and a fully equipped 100-plus-seat meeting room. The Teton County Library, Jackson, WY, includes a new youth wing to the south of the existing building and a new auditorium to the north.

Youthful enthusiasm

For the younger set, the Pendleton County Public Library, Falmouth, KY, displays a medieval castle turret entryway and a garden gateway mural. The Boca Raton Downtown Library, FL, upgraded with an ocean-themed carved glass entrance, oversized whimsical fish graphics, and a reading room distinguished by an eye-catching fish mobile. The Hillcrest Heights Branch Library, Temple Hills, MD, bears a circus-themed children’s area, with bookshelves covered to simulate a tent. The young adult room at the Millis Public Library, MA, is jazzed up with “funky” furnishings. The library was deliberately placed within walking distance of the public, preschool, and Montessori schools within the town’s boundaries. A bequest to the Liverpool Public Library, NY, allowed the library to commission three life-sized cement dinosaurs for an outdoor seating area/rain garden/program space. The Sam Gary Branch of Denver Public Library added a public art project that hangs from the center of the building’s ceiling and projects light with the aid of a mechanical dish that moves to capture maximum light as the earth rotates. The early literacy area at the new Silt Branch Library, CO, inspired by the surrounding wetlands, features an installation of real butterflies cast in resin “cattails” and water-themed interactive panels.

Cost-conscious and green, too

The Fairwood Branch Library, Baton Rouge, LA, was built on a pay-as-you-go plan, eschewing the need for bonds and, ultimately, “indebtedness.” The Kensington Branch of Brooklyn Public Library is organized around the concept of daylight, with a central top-lit atrium, a north-facing high-performance curtain wall, a south-facing garden wall, and a sidewall set back for eastern exposure. The Queens Library at Mitchell-Linden, NY, is the first Queens Library to be located in condo space, while the Bala Cynwyd Library, PA, is one-half of a two-member condo association; it is paired with a private school. The Pine River Library, Bayfield, CO, was designed with a focus on energy efficiency and abundant daylighting. The new community rooms connect to outdoor reading areas that have fire pits and an adjacent community garden. The Ladd Library, Cedar Rapids, IA, occupies a formerly abandoned Target store in an underused shopping plaza. The modern retail design is adaptable for classrooms, meeting rooms, party rooms, and workshops. The Belle Glade Branch, Palm Beach County Library System, FL, incorporated bicycle racks and shower/changing rooms into its amenities. Preferred parking is provided for low-emission/fuel-efficient vehicles.

History lovers, with a modern twist

With an eye toward historic projects, the Mid-Continent Public Library Woodneath Library Center, Kansas City, MO, sits on land that includes an 1855 landmark home that will be converted to a story center, along with a machine shed, a barn, and a silo. The Smithtown Library, NY, remodel preserves the original Colonial design and architectural details while serving as a central hub for social and community activities. The Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library, Washington, DC, originally built in 1925 with Carnegie funds, illustrates an Italian Renaissance design that harmonizes with the neighboring churches and embassies. The Brooklyn Public Library Park Slope branch is a renovated 1906 Carnegie building. The Lewiston City Library, ID, built in 1890 as a hardware store, retained the original industrial lift and roll-up steel coiling door in the children’s area.

Focusing on a 21st-century vibe, the Town of Vail Public Library, CO, Social Computer Area presents patrons with space to use their cell phones, Skype, and more. The Arlington Heights Memorial Library, IL, encompasses a training center that hosts over 80 tech classes per month; The Hub, a teen space with gaming areas, laptops, and comfortable seating; and The Marketplace, home to 20,000 new and popular books, music, and movies. The Teen Place at Schaumburg Township District Library, IL, features collaborative work areas and group study rooms, a Maker space, and a professional-quality digital production studio. Carver County/City of Watertown Library, MN, incorporates bins on wheels; an “open air” conference room with mobile, adaptable furniture; integrated group-focused “collaboration stations”; and a laptop/desktop bar.

An academic thrust

Armstrong Atlantic University, Savannah, renovated an adjacent building to create a learning commons. At the Eisenhower Library and Brody Learning Commons, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, a 100-seat quiet reading room complements the building’s interactive technologies and group study spaces. The Spring Creek Campus Library of Collin College, Plano, TX, has no objection to its mock trial courtroom, which can be converted into a large, general-purpose classroom. The Claire T. Carney Library, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has the feel of a campus living room, with a café and a flexible gathering area that doubles as an event space. The new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, incorporates a range of quiet spaces and high-energy zones for multi­taskers and groups. At the J. Murrey Atkins Library, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the chairs, tables, and screens are portable, so students can configure study areas as they wish. Also, the students at Raymond Cravens Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, have their pick of collaborative booths, bistro tables, soft seating, and charging stations.

A banquet of libraries with that all-important, all-purpose ingredient.



ADG, Oklahoma City; 405-232-5700;

A.L.R. Architecture, Charlotte, NC; 704-348-2699;

Arcari + Iovino, Little Ferry, NJ; 201-641-0600;

Archipelago Maui, Lahaina, HI; 808-573-0949;


Bani, Carville & Brown, Baton Rouge, LA; 225-343-2267;

Barker Rinker Seacat, Denver; 866-646-1980;

BBS Architects, Landscape Architects & Engineers, Patchogue, NY; 631-475-0349;

Vincent Benic Architect, New York; 212-475-1152;

Burgeon Group, Portland, OR; 503-730-9941;

BWS Architects, Tucson, AZ; 520-795-2705


Carde Ten Architects, Santa Monica, CA; 310-453-4427;

Castellaw Kom Architects (CKA), Lewiston, ID; 208-746-0183;

CDA Architects, Columbia, SC; 803-799-6502;

Robert R. Coffee Architect & Associates, Newport Beach, CA; 949-760-8668;

Cogdell & Mendrala Architects, PC, Savannah; 912-234-6318;

Core Group, Washington, DC; 202-466-6116;

Corley Redfoot Architects, Chapel Hill, NC; 919-401-8586;


Leo A. Daly, Minneapolis; 612-341-9588;

DCS Infrastructure, Medford, NY; 631-320-1706;

designLAB architects, Boston; 617-350-3005;

Dewberry, Dallas; 469-232-5245;

Diamond + Schmitt Architects Inc., Toronto; 416-862-8800;

DSGW, Duluth, MN; 218-727-2626;

Dub Architects Ltd., Edmonton, Alta.; 780-428-7888;


EwingCole/RATIO Architects— Associated Architects, Indianapolis; 317-633-4040;


Field Paoli Architects, San Francisco; 415-788-6606;


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

Gaylord Bros. Inc., Syracuse, NY; 800-272-3412;

Gilday Architects PC, Jackson, WY; 307-733-7303;

Gow Hastings Architects, Inc., Toronto; 416-920-0031, x222;


Hagen, Christensen & McIlwain Architects, Minneapolis; 612-904-1332;

HBM Architects, Cleveland; 216-241-1100;

HBRA Architects, Chicago; 312-527-3200;

HGA, Milwaukee; 414-278-8200;

Hidell & Associates Architects, Carrollton, TX; 972-416-4666;

HMA2, New York; 212-696-0414;

Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, New York; 212-465-0808;

Hughes Condon Marler Architects, Vancouver, BC;

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


Integrated Design Group, New York; 212-869-3540;


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

Johnston Architects PLLC, Seattle; 206-523-6150;

John P. Kennedy, Wildlife Sculptor, Delphi Falls, NY; 315-662-7242;


[KP]a+d (Karin Payson), San Francisco; 415-277-9500;


Lantz Construction Company, Broadway, VA; 540-896-8911;

Lohan Anderson, Chicago; 312-988-7800;


MMKC Associates, Powell, OH; 866-675-7584;


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


OPN Architects, Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA; 319-363-6018;

Oudens Ello Architecture, LLC, Boston; 617-422-0980;

OZ Architecture, Denver; 303-861-5704;


PBK, Dallas; 972-233-1323;

Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, Raleigh, NC; 919-836-9751;

Pearson & Peters Architects, PLC, Lexington, KY; 859-233-1213;

PGAL, Boca Raton, FL; 561-988-4002;

Precision Planning Inc., Lawrenceville, GA; 770-338-8000;

pro forma architecture, Dallas; 972-713-7100;

Product Architecture + Design, Chicago; 773-278-0936;


Stephen Rankin Associates, Chicago; 312-899-0002;

Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects, San Diego; 619-233-1023;


Safdie Rabines Architects, San Diego; 619-297-6153;

Samaha Associates, Fairfax, VA; 703-691-3311;

Sapp Design Associates Architects, Springfield, MO; 417-877-9600;

SEH, St. Paul; 651-490-2057;

Sen Architects, New York; 212-604-9522;

Shepley Bulfinch, Boston; 617-423-1700;

SHKS Architects, Seattle; 206-675-9151;

SHW Group, Berkley, MI; 248-336-4700;

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

Smith Metzger Architects, Des Moines; 515-244-2111;

Snøhetta, New York; 646-383-4762;

Snowdon & Hopkins Architects, PC, Vail, CO; 970-476-2201;

Soderstrom Architects, Portland, OR; 503-228-5617;

G. Bruce Stratton Architects, Toronto; 416-351-9145;

StudioTechne, Cleveland; 216-791-4410;


THA architecture Inc., Portland, OR; 503-227-1254;

Toshiko Mori Architect, New York; 212-337-9644;


URS Corporation, Cleveland; 216-622-2400;


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

VITETTA Group, Philadelphia; 215-218-4747;


Walker-Perez Associates, Brownsville, TX; 956-546-5511

WKU Architectural & Manufacturing Sciences Inst., Bowling Green, KY; 270-745-6302;

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Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

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

Celebrating her 46th 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.

The Latest Trends in Library Design
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Facts Matter: Information Literacy for the Real World
Libraries and news organizations are joining forces in a variety of ways to promote news literacy, create innovative community programming, and help patrons/students identify misinformation. This online course will teach you how to partner with local news organizations to promote news literacy through a range of programs—including a citizen journalism hub at your library.


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