Publications Library Journal - May 2011 Landmark Library Issue
Design Cost Data Magazine - May / June 2011 Issue
i4design Magazine - April 2011 Issue
Construction Leaders Today Magazine - December 2010 Issue
Chicago Architect Magazine - July 2010 Issue
Library Journal December - 2009 Architectural Issue
Library Journal Hotline - September 2009 Issue
Highlights In the western suburbs of Chicago, a dramatic transformation was propelled by merging an existing brutalist-inspired Library with a fluid new addition. At the exterior, a glass tower was expressed, creating a lantern welcoming patrons inside the new and vibrant main entrance, while sculptural light boxes were employed on the opposite facade to create whimsy. After a nearly three year design and construction phase, it emerged as a contemporary structure with a green mindset and a sharp focus on technology.
On the interior, existing reading rooms were converted to comfortable lounges, reestablishing areas of solitude. Natural light washes into the sunken lower level around the curvaceous edges that wind through the 'amoeba room' while color, texture, and pattern create visceral depth and tame the original building's rigid palette of formed concrete and wood. Art and technology also fuse together in the integration of a programmable LED light wall. This vibrant, flexible and functional social center engages patrons by blending unexpected modernism with progressive ideas.
Featured: in the FOX network's show Empire, in episode 208.
In the western suburbs of Chicago, a dramatic transformation was propelled by merging an existing brutalist-inspired Library with a fluid new addition. After a nearly three year design and construction phase, it emerged as a contemporary structure with a green mindset and a sharp focus on technology. An entirely new image from Park Avenue features a facade enhanced by a canted glass tower. Soft light from the ramp handrails and the tower add a sense of mystery to the composition, drawing the eye to the entry. The original building, partly recessed below grade and glazed with smoky panes of glass, was far less transparent and attention-grabbing. With energy-efficient low-E clear glass, the new facade entices passers-by.
A sculpted facade features two distinct architectural zones. The administrative wing on the mezzanine level uses geometric light boxes to give the long facade relief and interest. Each light box connects to a separate room behind the facade. The board meeting room is the light box that protrudes outward; its shape is expressed internally, as well. On the main level, a clear glass facade greets patrons and entices them with the bright colors used in the Young Adults department. Visual connection between the street and the library's interior was a major goal for the renovation. Solar control at this part of the building is achieved by motorized shades that retract into the ceiling.
Over 15,000 square feet of green roof was integrated into the design. Lightweight sedum was used in conjunction with a tray system to capture and slow down the rate of flow and diffuse environmental pollutants. The green roof also insulates during the winter, prevents heat gain during the summer, and shields the roofing membrane from UV rays, extending the life of the roof.
The integration of a bio-swale along with roof scuppers provided an additional landscaping concept for the site. The bioswale is not a "wetland" area, per say, but an area that would allow quick filtration and release. Native Landscaping was used around the site to minimize lawns, which are not only maintenance intensive, but also create chemical runoff.
Just beyond the intersection of two main hallways is the "Amoeba" space, so named because of a curvaceous platform that floats in the middle of the floor plan. This part of the library houses digital media as well as the Periodicals collection and is the project's signature architectural expression. The amoeba platform is pulled away from all sides of the building, allowing natural light to pass into the lower level. Atop the amoeba are light "scoops" that capture outside light and reflect it into the space. Each scoop was designed to take advantage of various sun angles in summer and winter to help with heat gain and light transfer.
As patrons descend to the lower level via the main stair, they encounter one of the building's several "technology nodes." Interplay of the orange amoeba edge, the burst of natural light from the skylight and the accent energy of the "light wall" is compelling. The light wall was envisioned as a "mirror" to the skylight above it, but also is an active artistic element. Most often, the light wall has a soft, white glow that provides pleasing illumination during overcast days or evening hours. But it can be made striking with colors, too. And it powers up and down with a special presentation at the start and end of each day, either greeting patrons or alerting them that the library is about to close.
The library's most daring idea probably is the "Green Zone," a connective hallway between the adult and children's departments that also doubles as a tech node. The spatially abstract space is also visually absorbing. As another technology hub of the library, it has WI-FI and a long row of computers opposite study counters. The walls feature a textural striped paint pattern to reflect light from the illuminated panels. A fiber-optic sculptural "dragon" hangs in the space, its head and neck serving as official gateway to the children's department.
Poplar Creek Public Library District (2009)
Architect of Record: Frye Gillan Molinaro Architects
Project Designer / Construction Administrator: AJ Rosales