Page N1.2 . 18 May 2011                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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    AIA/ALA Library Awards 2011


    These older buildings, along with the new steel structure on the west side of the site, are now home to several entities: the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a department of the Central Arkansas Library System; archival collections from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; part of the University of Arkansas's Clinton School of Public Service; other organizations; and a cafe.

    Designed to foster a pedestrian-oriented environment, the 71,000-square-foot (6,600-square-meter) renovation and addition project put public functions such as exhibit galleries and the cafe in ground-level spaces, and research, storage, and office spaces above. The western facade and a cascade of steps define a curved path that subtly points toward the nearby Main Library.

    Vertical frosted-glass fins, printed with historical images of Arkansans, are intended to symbolize the pages of an opening book. Rounding out the lively composition is plinth of local sandstone and a three-story glass-and-steel screen in a copper frame.


    The addition connects to the 1914 building via a long, narrow atrium, which contributes to daylighting both buildings and also serves as the return air path for the HVAC system, eliminating half the normal ductwork needed. The atrium's glass walls reveal color-coded archival boxes, hinting at the accessibility of these protected documents.

    The awards jury praised the architects for a "complex program done well."

    Warm Branch in Boston

    For the Boston Public Library's new Mattapan Branch Library, located in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Boston, William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. sought to create a secure building with a strong civic presence that was also welcoming to the community.

    One key element is the building's strong frontage on Blue Hill Avenue, the neighborhood main street. The long volume of the main reading room aligns with the community room and an adjacent building, interrupting the street wall only for the library's street entrance and a narrow entry to its parking lot, concealed behind.

    The building exterior features granite and brick, which provide visual warmth in a deliberate contrast to the gray stone of downtown civic buildings. Balancing that solidity, the library's extensive glazing fosters a sense of transparency and connection between inside and out, while sills are high enough to provide a measure of protection from the street.

    Inside, the 21,000-square-foot (2,000-square-meter) library is flooded with daylight from large windows, clerestory windows, and a glazed interior courtyard. The main reading room features maple paneling and flooring, and angled maple louvers to protect reading surfaces from direct sunlight, while the children's and young-adult spaces are decorated in bright colors and patterns. The project's interior architect was Lab [3.2] Architecture.

    In addition to daylighting, which reduces building energy use, the library can also boast mechanical ventilation efficiency and water use reduction, both about 30 percent better than base code.

    "It stands out like a jewel," said the jury of the building. "The quality of light is advanced both from an environmental standpoint and through its presence in the space."   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Designed by Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects, the new addition at the Arkansas Studies Institute (ASI) combines with two older buildings — one from 1882 and another from 1914 — to form a single multipurpose facility.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The structurally expressive facade of the ASI addition features a frame of steel that supports vertical fins of frosted glass and horizontal shades of perforated metal.
    Photo: Timothy Hursley Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Arkansas Studies Institute longitudinal-section and cross-section drawings.
    Image: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. designed the Boston Public Library's Mattapan Branch Library, a 21,000-square-foot (1,950-square-meter) building in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The interior architect was Lab [3.2] Architecture.
    Photo: © Robert Benson Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Maple is a primary interior finish material in the main reading room of the Mattapan Branch Library, comprising the flooring and panels on the walls and some ceilings. The exterior finishes are primarily a granite veneer and a glass curtain-wall system.
    Photo: © Robert Benson Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Mattapan Branch Library detail wall section diagram.
    Image: William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Interior fixed wood louvers screen the upper two-thirds of the glazed exterior walls in the Mattapan Branch Library's main reading room.
    Photo: © Robert Benson Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Mattapan Branch Library floor plan drawing.
    Image: William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. Extra Large Image


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