KCPL MAIN LIBRARY

KANAWHA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY

Charleston, West Virginia

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Preservation and expansion of an historic building to rebalance the allocation of user space and improve accessibility

The visioning process began through discussions with the Library Ad Hoc Committee to define the scope of work, discuss project goals, and coordinate our approach to Program Validation, Stakeholder Engagement, and Facility Evaluation. An initial stakeholder engagement session was conducted with more than 100 attendees during a Staff Development Day and gathered input from library staff, administration, and board members who were in attendance. Our team worked together with the Library and the Ad Hoc Committee to review and evaluate prior programming documents and make recommendations for revisions based on today’s thinking and current goals of the KCPL.

The next step involved our team working in conjunction with a commercial real estate and development agent to assist the Library in identifying and evaluating available sites within the City for the location of a new Main Library facility. The site selection process involved the analysis of 16 sites with a more detailed study of the four most feasible locations, ultimately resulting in the decision to renovate and expand their current building.

The current library building, while an exemplary example of classical architecture, has not been able to keep up with the evolution of library services, changes in material use, technology, and social programs. The re-imagined library will allow for continual growth within its walls to support the print material while becoming the community hub for Charleston.

We continued to seek input from the community throughout the programming and design phases. The design has been carefully conceived with consideration to blend old with new, to create an exciting cultural destination along Capitol Street, and most importantly to create a much more user friendly and flexible interior library space that can adapt, change, and grow over time as library services continue to expand. One of the things that been increasingly important to the Library is the consideration for universal design. Providing a sensory room on the children’s level, height adjustable public computer stations, and single use restrooms will create a building that welcomes and is usable by all.

The interior layout will balance the book space with the people space and include such areas as browsable collections space; an idea lab; study rooms; meeting and gathering spaces; local history room; early childhood play, learn and grow areas; and access to technology. The idea lab is home to a new tool lending program where small hand tools will be available for check out and demonstrations on use will be held. A cafe operated by a local vendor has also been incorporated which overlooks a newly designed plaza.

The 80,000 SF design will maintain an entrance from Capitol Street but also add a new fully ADA accessible entry from Summer Street with direct access to all floors of the library. In addition, a skywalk connects to an adjacent parking garage. Part of emphasizing this destination along Capitol Street involved the incorporation of a reflecting pool, flexible outdoor seating, and the opportunity to use the new plaza for events. It was important that we preserve the original, classical building style while making the Kanawha County Public Library a national case study in the renovation and expansion of a traditional urban library.
Project Team / Examples of Previous Work
The current library building, while an exemplary example of classical architecture, has not been able to keep up with the explosion of library material and the evolution of social programs. The design for this new re-imagined library will allow continual growth within its walls to support the print material while becoming the community hub for Charleston.

The design has been carefully conceived with consideration to blend old with new, to create an exciting cultural destination along Capitol Street, and most importantly to create a much more user friendly and flexible interior library space that can adapt, change, and grow over time as library services continue to expand.

The 81,375 SF design will maintain an entrance from Capitol Street but also add a new fully ADA accessible entry from Summer Street with direct access to all floors of the library. In addition, there is a proposed walkway planned connecting to the adjacent parking garage. Space within will balance the book space with the people space and include such areas as browseable collections space, maker space, study rooms, meeting and gathering spaces, local history room, early childhood play learn and grow areas, and access to technology. We look forward to working with the community to seek input on the included spaces and design.

Our creative team of Architects set out to reflect the new “Re-imagined Library Mission” with a dynamic and relevant new configuration marking this project’s special place in time. It was important that we preserve the original, classical building style while making the Kanawha County Public Library a national case study in the renovation of a traditional urban library.

The visioning process began through discussions with the Library Ad Hoc Committee to define the scope of work, discuss project goals, and coordinate our approach to Program Validation, Stakeholder Engagement, and Facility Evaluation. An initial stakeholder engagement session was conducted with more than 100 attendees during a Staff Development Day and gathered input from library staff, administration, and board members who were in attendance.

SERVICES

HBM │ Design Architect, Interior Designer
Silling Architects | Architect of Record