Vancouver Community Library
This library was designed to increase services and play a central cultural role in the community and the resurgence of the core of Washington’s fourth-largest city. A 150-person conference space provides a much needed place for public discourse, and an atrium serves as the city’s living room as well as the visual and physical link between the five levels of the library. A Children’s Museum-like experience, the largest in the country, provides an amenity for the family-oriented community while drawing new patrons to the building.
The building is designed as two distinct responses. The “heavier” program areas (collection, technology, meeting spaces) are constructed in concrete and clad with a terracotta rainscreen to reflect the civic nature of the building and the neighboring historic masonry structures. The “lighter” atrium, as an informal gathering space and the place to circulate through the building, is built out of steel and clad in glass.
As the role of the library evolves, including how we consume books, the Vancouver Community Library anticipates that we cannot know what to expect but that we must be ready to adapt when the future arrives. Large open floor areas and a raised access floor system allow for easily rearranged spaces in the future. The use of natural daylight was a key design strategy, and the narrow building and arrangement of shelves maximizes north and south light. Generous overhangs and the use of clear and shaded glass (a metal mesh shade and ceramic frit) control heat gain and glare.