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Outdoor innovation in libraries preceded the pandemic


The Outside Look: Designing Outdoor Library Spaces for the Future

Library architects and designers share how the pandemic has changed their—and their clients’—approach to designing outdoor library spaces for the future

“The biggest difference…is that it is no longer seen as a luxury,” Peter Bolek, president of HBM Architects, Cleveland, OH, tells LJ. “Pre-pandemic, many of our clients would consider outdoor spaces but opt not to include them, either as an immediate cost savings or to avoid a long-term upkeep and maintenance plan. Today, almost all of our current projects include outdoor spaces…. Now, the outdoor space is a required program item, not an option, just as prominent as quiet reading rooms, meeting rooms, or maker spaces have been in building programs.”

GREEN GATHERINGS Newton Public Library, KS, anchors a community park and central lawn that will be used for large gatherings, performances, speaking engagements, and the like. Cuyahoga County Public Library's Bay Village Branch includes a roof top terrace for programs and gatherings. The Cleveland Public Library's renovation and expansion of a century old Carnegie Library has a large entrance terrace that allows for an accessible entry and gathering space. Renderings courtesy of HBM Architects

Outdoor innovation in libraries preceded the pandemic (see “Great Outdoor Spaces” in the Sept. 15, 2017 issue of LJ), but there’s no denying that COVID-19 has driven many libraries not only to prioritize them but also to see their utility through a broader lens. Even as widespread vaccination opens up the possibility of returning to full use of indoor library spaces, we look forward to a bumper crop of creative outdoor projects in 2021 and beyond. —Meredith Schwartz


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