Program: A three-level public library that extends the original neoclassical library building from 1912 with a 12,000-square-foot addition, for a total of 25,000 square feet. The expanded library includes spaces for the main collection and the children's collection, a teen area, a computer learning center, two reading rooms and a reading atrium, a multipurpose room, staff offices, and a children's courtyard.
Design concept and solution: RDH Architects wanted to set up a clear contrast between the existing brick library and the addition, and to make the building fully accessible for handicapped patrons. To set off the heavy masonry of the original, the architects conceived the addition as an unadorned glass box. Tempered glass partition walls help the structure seem almost transparent, putting the program within—and the original library—on display. The entrance remains at the front of the existing building, but RDH dropped it from the first floor to ground level. Instead of ascending six feet to the first floor, patrons can now descend two feet via steps or ramps. The architects cut away the central part of the first floor, giving the new ground-floor entrance a triple-height atrium. To create clear sight lines throughout the old library, they replaced some of the walls with tempered glass partitions and reduced others to columns surrounded by tempered glass. Interior fixtures such as stainless steel handrails and anodized aluminum air vents round out the minimalist palette.