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Charlotte, North Carolina

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Reconciling segmented spaces and opening to the outside

The objective of this renovation and expansion project was to remedy the Morrison Regional Library from a dark interior with limited natural light, poor ADA accessibility to the building from the site, a lack of visual control throughout the building, a compartmentalized and inflexible layout, under-utilized spaces, and a main stair that acts as a visual barrier when you enter the building.

This 2,260 SF expansion to the existing 24,450 SF library also created a connection between the library building and its backyard by the development of a first floor outdoor patio and grassy lawn space with views to an architectural pond. The addition appears to align with the symmetry of the existing building in the design of the balustrade and fascia but the floor to ceiling glass curtain wall is playfully undulating signifying something new. The second floor expansion creates a large rooftop terrace that can be used as an outdoor program / event / reading space. The Library commissioned an artist to integrate a mosaic in raised concrete pavers on the terrace.

Relocating the main stair to the west created a visual connection between the first and second floors and completely redefined the entry experience. Without the barrier of the stair, patrons can now see the entirety of the public spaces on the first floor and through the building to glass wall and patio. Upon entering on the first floor, you now see new materials and a comfortable seating area with the café beyond it leading to the patio. As you look to the other side of the first floor you now also see the Children’s Area with an inviting entry, interactive early learning elements, children’s collections, and a dedicated children’s program room just beyond. There is also patio access from the Children’s Area to encourage outdoor programming for kids.

The second floor of the library now houses the bulk of the adult collections on lowered shelving to improve sight lines and comfortable seating areas. A dedicated Teen Area with gaming space creates a nice space for teens to call their own. A “Studio Space” accommodates everything from watercolor and sewing classes to high-tech maker events with 3-D printers. Public computers and two computer labs (one enclosed, the other open) provide exciting opportunities for technology use and integration into library programming. An increased amount of power outlets are located throughout the building to accommodate the large percentage of library users who bring their own devices. Power poles have been added outside for use on the patio and the library’s Wi-Fi is accessible from outdoor seating areas in both the front and rear of the building.

The second floor also features a quiet reading room, additional individual study rooms, and 6 group study rooms, three of which are ganged together to that flexible partitions could be removed in order to create a larger conference room. All of the study room are also now on a reservation system. There is also a flexible community room on the first floor that sub-divides into two smaller rooms.

Additional site and building enhancements include a new drive-up book drop that feeds into an automated materials handling sorter in the staff workroom and a dock area for deliveries. Overall the site has been re-worked for an improved parking lot configuration and ADA accessibility to sidewalks in the front of the building and access through the patio in the rear of the building.


HBM │ Design Architect, Interior Designer, Architect of Record


26,700 SF

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