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Sylvania, Ohio

2019 AIA Cleveland Achievement of Excellence Award winner

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A new service model focused on visual merchandising and user space

Of all the reasons for new library construction (aging infrastructure, natural disaster, etc.) perhaps the most rewarding is to meet an insatiable desire for library services from a growing community. Population growth in the last 30 years in the western tier of Lucas County had long predicted the demand for more library services than the existing Sylvania Branch could provide on its own. The library acquired seven acres from the local school district and set out to design a building that honored the tradition of the public library and encouraged the community to think creatively about the future of their public library experiences.

To distinguish the library from its sprawling retail context, the building is set in a field of native grasses and flowers. Strips of diverse plantings allow the site to dramatically change as zones of color appear and fade throughout the year. An organizing bar runs through the site and the building to unify the overarching design framework.

The form of the new King Road Branch Library was based on a study of the spatial qualities of paper as one moves through the pages of a book. Large expanses of glass have been articulated to mimic this motion of flipping through the pages, reflected in both plan and elevation.

Inside the building, a major shift in library services has been implemented. The main space of the library contains no traditional book stacks, with spatial priority given to physical materials located on engaging display units, technologies, and active program spaces. This shift in internal space configuration is so innovative that it was given a new name: the Library Pavilion.

The interior design is directly related to the exterior architecture and carries the theme of a crisp white building set in a field of flowers inside the building. The core of the building has tone and texture variations of a natural landscape, evoking themes like pebbles near a creek and bark on a tree.

A continuous plane of a naturally colored metal ceiling carries from the exterior through to the interior of the building. Epoxy resin is used on shelving end panels to draw bright colors and organic materials into the collection area. Bright white walls are accented by pops of color along an organizing spine.

The spine of the building is a striking shade of bright blue that contrasts with the surrounding crisp white walls, also providing access to a shared collection area. It sits opposite the large expanse of windows to the outside and holds the maker, study, technology, and collaborative spaces. A matching band of blue color wraps the floor, ceiling, and wall of this predominantly glass-enclosed collection area. The collection space layout allows the library to house more items than in a traditional configuration without sacrificing user space.

Many sustainable features were implemented throughout the site and building design demonstrating environmental responsibility. A raised access floor system that handles HVAC, power and data distribution was used both for energy efficiency and future flexibility.


HBM │ Design Architect, Interior Designer
Buehrer Group │ Architect of Record


22,240 SF

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