What If the Pages of a Book Opened Into a Building?
River Center Library / Trahan Architects

The Baton Rouge River Center, an urban area bridging cultural and civic districts, adjacent to a green boulevard.

A five-story public library with perimeter ramp circulation around central stacks.

The folded form of the library building is derived from sheets of paper, connected at the corners and then lifted to make a lattice. “It is interesting,” juror Diane Hoskins said. “It’s a play with the geometry.” But local firm Trahan Architects took this beyond a simple formal gesture, creating gently sloped stairs along the perimeter that provide circulation through, and determine the program of, the building.

The stacks are located at the center of the building on concrete slabs, and the edges of those slabs are finished and exposed to the visitors as they walk up the stairs to reach the next level. Each floor is accessible via both the stairs and a central elevator. “I think it’s pretty impressive,” juror John Peterson said. “For me, the challenge with libraries is the relationship between how one moves through the stacks and deals with access. This solution is pretty nice.”

A void between the perimeter ramps and the concrete slabs that support the stacks allows visitors to see multiple levels of the library at once, an effect that intrigued juror Adele Chatfield-Taylor. “I like the way it is porous going vertically,” she said. “That’s very attractive in a library, because it makes you curious about the rest, the way it gets used.”

Project Credits

Project River Center Library, Baton Rouge, La.
Client East Baton Rouge Parish Library—David Farrar (library director)
Architect Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.—Trey Trahan (principal architect); Mark Hash (senior designer); Emma Chammah, Christian Rodriguez, Ivan O’Garro (project team)
Structural Engineer LBYD—Dennis Tow
M/E/P and Life Safety Engineer Associated Design Group—Larry Blanchette (mechanical); Tom VanDeventer (electrical); George Gregory (plumbing); Glen McBride (life safety)
Size 54,000 square feet