Lara Swimmer

At 124,500 square feet, this former Wal-Mart has been transformed into the largest single-story library in the country. The architects needed to introduce a variety of uses into the former big-box store and make the space navigable. They created quadrants for the primary areas—community meeting rooms, the children’s library, the adult services area, and the staff area—and designed two main spines, one for central services and a second for community and staff areas. The material palette and design concept was inspired by the city’s abundant natural history, including the migration patterns of many birds, insects, and mammals.

Jury: “While many of the external site characteristics could not be changed, the design team signaled that 21st-century attitudes toward design are evolving quickly.”

Client: “This library doesn’t look like a traditional library, and you can see it on people’s faces when they walk in. They are amazed. The library has become not just a place for books and quiet study, but also a community center. We’re now averaging 65,000 people a month.” —Kate Horan, library director

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