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Custom Millwork at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library Main Library

Author Credits:  Kevin Kennedy RA, NCARB, LEED AP Principal and Project Manager, Brooke Breiner NCIDQ, LEED AP ID + C Interior Designer

The challenge in creating custom millwork pieces was coordination with existing conditions in terms of colors, materials, and existing thematic pieces while reflecting the distinct characteristics of the original historic Art Deco architecture.

Description of the Site & Environs: The historic art deco Central Court with its beautiful and irreplaceable Vitrolite glass panels, ornate original light fixtures and wonderful historic murals was the space that we wanted to have resonate throughout the building.

Flooring and finishes in renovated areas were selected to further engage the geometric detailing present in the original 1940 building. The motif of finishes in the technology-rich Meeting Rooms, Technology Training Lab, Studio Lab, Recording Studios and A/V Collection area evoke the Art Deco angular design. Accents of cobalt blue, poppy red and seafoam green give these spaces their own identity.

The custom millwork pieces are designed to complement the selection of colors, textures, patterns, and fixtures that define these spaces while coordinating with the existing conditions. Design Intentions & Distinguishing Factors of the Work:

The design intent was to use the strong art deco geometric motifs and colors of the Central Court in the design of new millwork pieces (displays, service desks and other cabinetry) throughout the library to bring the strong presence and historic elegance of the Central Court to all parts of the building. This intent was furthered by the consistent incorporation of glass (in original panes, recycled glass surfaces, and crushed glass in resins) as an homage to the Vitrolite panels present throughout the Central Court and children’s area.

Panes of original glass with Art Deco accents were recovered from storage and incorporated into new millwork items as dividers for self-checkout stations and the passport station. These and other millwork pieces were designed as minimal interventions in order to highlight the historic features while providing modern library services and access to both staff and materials. They feature clean lines and use solid surface products for durability and customization possible through forming and etching. These techniques successfully incorporate the geometry of the window ornamentation on the historic building.

In the adult areas, custom millwork pieces include flexible material displays arranged to peak customer’s interest while venturing further into the building. In collection areas, new end panels were also included as part of the millwork package and these also coordinate with the prevalent geometry. Staff service desks are also custom pieces where functionality is taken to a new level by creating high adjustable segments of the desk where computer screens can be positioned ergonomically for each staff member that works at the desk.

The mobility of new custom material displays allows the library to use spaces in the atrium and around the new large meeting room to merchandise materials but also as pre-function and gathering spaces during large events by simply rolling the displays to a new location.

In the children’s area, existing Vitrolite glass panels act as a storybook unfolding imagery and excerpts from the stories they depict along the walls. This set an inspirational precedent for a large millwork installation - the Dr. Seuss gallery wall. During an early walkthrough we discussed the Library’s growing collection of original 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional artwork. Colors from the author’s distinct palette became the foundation for new millwork pieces in this space and provided a blue accent to a new service desk, orange, yellow, and purple were used for mobile nesting display units, and in resins that accent new shelving end panels. These same shades of orange, yellow, and blue are used in the neutral grey carpeting to create a path from the entry, to the Seuss wall.

The Dr. Seuss gallery wall is a highlight of this space and acts a portal to the picture book room. The multiple sized openings in the wall create a fun experience for younger children who are accessing the room beyond. Whimsical shapes reflect the style of the author and the color palette is expanded deeper into his artwork. Approaching this element, you can’t help but feel like you are walking through one of his famous books. Dr. Seuss was the favorite author of late director, Clyde Scoles, and this millwork piece is a small part of honoring his legacy.


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