Maplewood Memorial Library Proposal

In response to Maplewood Memorial Library’s interest in a redesign and expansion we looked at how a community and a library interact today.

The world is a very different place from 1959 when the library was first built. Information is disseminated in completely different ways and at vastly different speeds. Libraries are no longer the only place to find books, do research or keep in touch with the changing world. We all do that from a variety of places in a variety of ways.

Yet the idea of the Public Library, and the Maplewood Memorial Library in particular, still has a vital place in the life of the community and as a nexus of learning. Its place has changed and our proposal helps Maplewood Memorial Library to fit its modern role.

We all know that the Library is no longer just a place of quiet contemplation and work. It hosts meetings, readings, community events and myriad other activities. Some design issues are programmatic, like the conflict between noisy and quiet spaces, and others are organizational, like the question of where the stacks are efficiently located and how book circulation functions best.

The local nostalgia for the building as a part of the Maplewood Township, and the impact a new building might have is another issue to be successfully resolved with a new design.

We have, in a single gesture, tried to address a series of these concerns: preserving the original and wrapping it in a see-through enclosure.

Our proposal erects a transparent building above, around and through the historic Library building, creating a set of alternate spaces to give home to the new types of activities needed by the building: noisier, brighter and more modern collaborative spaces which are more easily connected to the outside.

This new transparent shell defines meeting spaces and circulation on all sides, provides a thermal and acoustical barrier, allows the attic to be occupied and used, maintains the existence and memory of the historical library and controls the light around and in the building, not to mention provides more opportunities for enjoying views of the park while you work alone or in groups.

The enclosure allows a rooftop of photovoltaic panels to power the library, providing all the energy it would need throughout the year and northern daylight at the same time. It would enclose a new atrium for the community and house a large vertical farm that can both shade the interior, clean the air, and provide a community activity for the park and library to offer to its visitors.

This proposal keeps the Maplewood Memorial Library and creates a new Library at the same time, with both being visible to the user and the passerby.