Page N3.2 . 20 June 2007                     
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  • AIA Maryland Design Awards 2007
  • ASLA 2007 Landscape Awards
  • AIA's Best Libraries 2007

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    AIA's Best Libraries 2007


    Every two years, the AIA and ALA celebrate the finest examples of library design by U.S.-licensed architects. Three of the nine selected for awards have already been covered in ArchitectureWeek. They are the Skillman Library for Lafayette College by Ann Beha Architects, the Fleet Library for the Rhode Island School of Design by Office dA, and La Grande Bibliothèque, for the Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec, Montréal, by Patkau/ Croft-Pelletier/ Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes Associés.

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    Branching Out

    Two of the award recipients are branch libraries in the Carnegie tradition. They are part of the civic centers of smaller communities within larger cities, and each, in its own way, displays response to climate in its sheltering roof form.

    In the cool, rainy city of Seattle, Washington, architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed the Ballard Library and Neighborhood Service Center as a branch of the Seattle Public Library. Jury members described the "green roof" as spreading "protectively over this library like a tent or a blanket, inviting and beckoning people under it. In this way it states its essential role as community center with peculiar northwest sensibilities."

    On the roof are anemometers monitoring wind speed and direction. This information is coupled with data about light, energy use, and rainfall, then transmitted to display panels serving as educational artwork along the building spines. The display makes microclimate and the building's response to climate part of the library patrons' learning experience.

    In a sharply contrasting climate, the hot, dry city of Phoenix, Arizona is home to the 15,000-square-foot (1,400-square-meter) Desert Broom Branch Library, by richärd+bauer architecture. In this case, the roof shelters occupants from the sun and heat.

    The jury observed of this LEED-certified building: "The sense of place of this desert library is remarkably achieved by its horizontality, broad panoramic views of the landscape and sky, and integration of interior and exterior. The play on vertical lines and curves animates the spaces within, imbuing them with a sense of an evening breeze blowing through."

    A heavy commitment to computers is found throughout the building with wireless capability and computer training areas. The building also houses meeting rooms, group study areas, youth/ teen spaces, a periodicals "living room," and staff support spaces.

    Robin Hood of Books

    A library of a somewhat different sort was recently built for a public elementary school in Harlem, New York City. The Robin Hood Foundation commissioned Gluckman Mayner Architects to design the renovation as part of a philanthropic Initiative targeting schools in high-poverty neighborhoods.

    The 2,400-square-foot (220-square-meter) Robin Hood Foundation Library maximizes daylight by locating the children's reading areas close to the windows. Supplementary electric light is supplied by fixtures that suggest books with flapping wings.

    "Child-friendly," sustainable materials, including bamboo flooring, formaldehyde-free wheat straw board, and recycled plastic were selected for their low toxicity and low cost. Brightly colored custom casework and a ceiling that is papered to look like a blue cloudy sky create a playful atmosphere. A long, stepped window seat with jewel-colored cushions serves as a comfortable reading area and as amphitheatre-style seating for performances.

    The jury members said, "With very little, this library now has the power to spark imagination. It also maintains an orderly system for instruction by differentiating spaces within a limited area for a variety of functions. Although small, this project should give much inspiration to its students and, as well, to other similar endeavors in impoverished communities."   >>>

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    The Desert Broom Branch Library, by richärd + bauer architecture, is one of nine recipients of the 2007 AIA/ALA Library Building Award.
    Photo: Bill Timmerman

    ArchWeek Image

    Desert Broom Branch Library.
    Photo: Bill Timmerman

    ArchWeek Image

    Robin Hood Foundation Library by Gluckman Mayner Architects.
    Photo: Peter Mauss/ Esto Photographics

    ArchWeek Image

    Robin Hood Foundation Library.
    Photo: Peter Mauss/ Esto Photographics

    ArchWeek Image

    William J. Clinton Presidential Center by Polshek Partnership Architects.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley

    ArchWeek Image

    Clinton Presidential Center.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley

    ArchWeek Image

    Shunde Library by P&T Architects and Engineers.
    Photo: Bobby Sum

    ArchWeek Image

    Shunde Library.
    Photo: Bobby Sum


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