A Library Goes from a Home for Books to a Space Encouraging an Individualized Experience

2nd Place, Interior

The needs and expectations of a public library have drastically changed since 2000 when the Belmar Library, Lakewood, Colo., was completed. The existing design did not provide an environment where patrons felt a desire to stay, learn and collaborate. Sources of natural light were often hidden behind tall bookstacks and low ceilings. Vistas of the lush public park next door were closed off, and furniture consisted of one-size-only wood tables and chairs.

The master plan HDR developed for the Belmar Public Library identified the need to renovate the site and building systems to address deferred maintenance and life-cycle needs; modernize the interior to update the library service model; and evaluate the feasibility of significant building expansion to enhance capacity. It was determined that by reorganizing the floor plan and departments and relocating the entry and restrooms, an addition would not be necessary to achieve the project goals.

The client’s vision for the project was to “foster community through absolute delight.” This sentiment fueled the library’s transformation from a home for books to a space encouraging an individualized experience focused on comfort, an enhanced sense of place and a customizable sensory experience.

To create a library experience unique to the Lakewood community, the team garnered input and engagement through small group community meetings, staff meetings and online surveys. HDR compiled the results from each engagement and synthesized them to reveal overall pain points and opportunities to drive ideation in concept design.

Wellness and sustainability were goals established by the stakeholders. Although no official certifications were pursued, HDR implemented its sustainable design standards and tracked the project to comply with the AIA 2030 Challenge. Solutions included the following:

  • Increased daylight with the addition of a 180-foot clerestory and tubular skylights in the staff area, mitigated glare with biophilic patterned film and automatic shades.
  • All light fixtures were converted to LED with dimmers and daylight sensors.
  • Selected materials were made of recycled content and sourced locally where possible, improved indoor air quality, contained biophilic and fractal patterns, or reduced fatigue.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures with automatic sensors were installed.
  • A variety of seating arrangements, thermal zones and acoustic qualities were provided.
  • Four electric-vehicle charging stations were added, and access to the site from adjacent transit stops was enhanced.
  • Native plantings that require minimal watering and drip irrigation were installed.

A new canopy structure at the entrance provides a sense of arrival. Upon entry, users immediately can assess all the library’s amenities. A red Welcome Desk is staffed to help visitors customize their experience for the day. Self-service stations are available for patrons on the go.

Dropped ceilings were removed, allowing for bright, diffused sunlight to reach the open bookstacks and provide a clear view of the park next door and beyond. Simple, sustainable materials became a canvas for the colorful books and furnishings and limit distraction from the exterior views available in nearly every line of sight.

Space planning and varied furniture selections enable the ability to individually select the space that feels right for you, in just this moment. There are no longer quiet signs but rather quiet and active spaces organized to encourage patrons of all ages to act naturally. Flexible shelving and furniture provide an opportunity to customize each space for various uses, including storytelling, crafting, public meetings and computer classes.

Approximately 200 additional square feet of usable space was added with the reconfiguration.

“The design team’s ability to ‘find space’ within the existing structure is most impressive—from vaulting spaces to occupying the wall with seating. Program and spatial reorganization are complementary to new daylighting and material selections. When ceilings are low, the choice of wood makes them much more inviting, and even then, the floor is lowered to find new volume in a restricted space.”

Ross Welch, AIA, NOMA, LEED Green Associate, associate, Trivers, Metamorphosis Awards Judge

Retrofit Team

METAMORPHOSIS AWARD WINNER and ARCHITECT/LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: HDR

CIVIL/STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Martin/Martin Inc.

MEP ENGINEER AND ACOUSTICAL AND TELECOM DESIGNER: BG Buildingworks

IRRIGATION ENGINEER: Hines Inc.

Materials

CLERESTORY: Kalwall

LAMINATE: Wilsonart

ACOUSTICAL BAFFLES: TURF

ACOUSTICAL CEILING PANEL: 3form

CARPET TILE: Mannington Commercial and Kinetex from J+J Flooring

FLOOR AND WALL TILE: Florida Tile

CORK WALL PANELS: Organic Blocks from Muratto

TACKABLE WALLCOVERING: Forbo

Be the first to comment on "A Library Goes from a Home for Books to a Space Encouraging an Individualized Experience"

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: