Paul Crosby

The AIA and American Library Association (ALA) have announced the winners of their 2016 Library Building Awards, which recognize excellence in library architecture. This year's recipients reflect the changing role of libraries within communities that have grown to expect technologically advanced spaces in lieu of traditional book stacks.

The jury for the 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards was led by Lynn S. Grossman, AIA, a vice president of Cannon Design, and included Bradd Brown, AIA, a principal with OPN Architects; Kathleen Imhoff, a Kentucky-based library consultant; Ryan E. Kanteres, AIA, an architect at Scott Simons Architects; Susan Parker, deputy librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Library; and Darro Willey, a library facilities consultant.

To see more about each winning project, click on the links below or visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.

Bill Timmerman

Billings Public Library, Billings, Montana
Will Bruder+Partners with O2 Architects
Jury comment: The library is a beautiful, functional box that successfully incorporates playful volumes to create interest while providing circulation cues and giving the interior a unique identity. The materials and detailing have a strong connection to the local vernacular, incorporating reclaimed materials thoughtfully and smoothly.

© Jon Miller | Hedrich Blessing

Chicago Public Library, Chinatown Branch, Chicago
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with Wight & Company
Jury comment: The form of the building is a direct response to the site influences, the interior of the library is a direct response to the purpose of the library, and the exterior envelope is a direct response to the sustainable objectives. The courtyard concept is based on the traditional Chinese courtyard, uniting the library with its immediate neighborhood and community.

A butt-glazed curtainwall, seen here from the north, wraps the reading rooms. Articulated mullion caps create a balustrade effect.
Paul Crosby A butt-glazed curtainwall, seen here from the north, wraps the reading rooms. Articulated mullion caps create a balustrade effect.

Hennepin County Walker Library, Minneapolis
VJAA
Jury comment: This library has a great civic presence that enhances the uptown community rather than overpowering its neighbors. The interior layout is a clean, flexible design with a clear delineation of the built spaces and the open spaces that are again reflected on the exterior.

Lawrence Public Library, Kansas
Architect - Gould Evans
Tim Griffith Lawrence Public Library, Kansas Architect - Gould Evans

Lawrence Public Library Renovation and Expansion, Lawrence, Kansas
Gould Evans
Jury comment: The decision to “wrap” the current facility creates a wonderful perimeter reading space, and the penetrations through the original exterior and the new atrium unify the interior spaces. The connection to the outdoor reading garden and performance spaces creates a great civic presence and signals engagement and energy. Many ingenious features are combined to achieve a 50% increase in the overall size of the building with no increase in energy use requirements.

Renton Public Library
Lara Swimmer Renton Public Library

Renton Public Library, Renton, Wash.
The Miller Hull Partnership
Jury comment: The original concept of the library as a bridge is very powerful, yet it feels as if it took this redesign for the library to fully reach its potential. This iconic location now connects the downtown district to the City Park, bringing life and activity to the spaces within and around the library. The project impressively was able to effect a major renovation without disrupting the habitat and hydraulics of the river below.

Lorne Bridgman

Ryerson University Student Learning Centre, Toronto
Snøhetta with Zeidler Partnership Architects
Jury comment: This library brands each floor to provide bold, shaped, and exciting landscapes well suited to the collaborative, creative, and social student body. While connected to the building that houses the collection, this facility helps to redefine the academic library as a learning commons and important part of the student’s university experience.

Williams College Sawyer Library, Williamstown, Mass., by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
© Peter Aaron/OTTO Williams College Sawyer Library, Williamstown, Mass., by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Sawyer Library, Williamstown, Mass.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Jury comment: Dynamic light-filled new library spaces reflect a fresh 21st century library vision while smoothly and meaningfully using the campus’s historic library building as the main entry. Repurposing of the stack atrium to provide a unique and immediately identifiable, iconic space as part of the library entry sequence is a creative and successful solution.

See all of the winners of the 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.