Charleston, West Virginia

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

HBM worked 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 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.


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