2017 Excellence in Sustainability Award, American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Studies
2015 Landmark Library, Library Journal
2015 Library Building Award, American Institute of Architects and American Library Association
2015 1,000 Friends of Iowa Best Development Award
2014 Merit Award, American Institute of Architects, Central States Region
2014 Interior Design Honorable Mention, American Library Association and the International Interior Design Association
2014 Design is…Award, Shaw Contract Group
2014 “Best Curb Appeal” Honorable Mention, GALE “Libraries Are Beautiful” Photo Contest
2014 Merit Award, Illuminating Engineering Society
2014 First Place, ASHRAE Technology Award (Midwest region)
In June 2008 a destructive flood swept through Cedar Rapids. Hundreds of homes and businesses were lost including some of the city’s most prominent public structures such as the Courthouse, the City Hall and the 25-year old Public Library. The loss of the library was particularly devastating. Everything on the first floor of the 85,000-square-foot facility — which occupied a city block — was lost to the flood including the entire adult and youth collections, public access computers, computer labs, and a state-of-the-art check-out system. Approximately 200,000 items in the collection were ruined. In addition, thousands of furniture items and pieces of electronic equipment were destroyed. OPN quickly stepped in to assist by helping design temporary library spaces downtown and in a shopping center on the west side of the city. Meanwhile the community coalesced around the need to rebuild the public library. A dedicated team of community volunteers and the Library Board of Trustees kicked off a campaign to re-envision how the library should function and to find a new home for this important public resource.
The new site for the new library fronts Greene Square, a park within the urban core. Book ending the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, this library completes a larger urban dialogue and civic oriented zone. The building not only completes the urban edge fronting the park, but also steps back to create a large urban plaza, an extension of the public space of the park and street. As the entire building aims to reveal inner functions to the public, it also offers patrons and building users unprecedented views to the urban and park settings beyond, connecting them to civic art, public gathering spaces, and programmed events.
The new 95,000-square-foot library is designed to be a vibrant, multipurpose destination and a space for the community to mix and collaborate. The design of the new library was driven by the desire to embrace openness, transparency, and foster public engagement with and within the space. With those principles in mind, the team looked for innovative ways to present vistas and views throughout the structure while visually connecting the streetscape with the functions occurring within the building.
In keeping with the themes of openness and transparency, large expanses of glass occur at the first and second floors of the collection spaces. Views into the building frame the rhythmic placement of library stacks juxtaposed with a lively and active Children’s Collection. The views in and out of the collection spaces are seen from nearly every vantage point around the new library. A 200-seat auditorium situated on the second and third levels looks outward toward Greene Square. The auditorium stage is set against a curtain wall of glass allowing for the changing seasons and cityscape to serve as a living backdrop.
The central space of the library is the Service Core Zone. This space brings together all of the core patron services in a hub and spoke system allowing users to orient themselves in the building as well as gather to meet. The spaces and mixing of circulation paths is most clearly expressed within this zone. It is defined architecturally by the rake of the auditorium as it vaults over the first floor Adult Fiction collections and 2nd floor “bridge” links within the Service Core. The zone was designed with clear sight lines and open vertical circulation to allow users to readily navigate their way to various destinations.
A café and coffee shop is nestled in the core enticing visitors to gather, linger and engage with each other. Off the café is the Young Adult Area where rooms for gaming, study, and group work open to an active collection space. The Children’s Collection occupies the east portion of the first floor. The second floor consists of the Adult Non-Fiction collections, a large dividable conference space, and staff and administrative offices. The third floor consists of a break-out lobby for the Auditorium and public access to the green roof.
The 24,000-square-foot green roof provides an attractive space for library patrons to gather while offering yet another set of views and visual access to the surrounding cityscape. Functionally, the roof will aid in waste water management while serving as an outdoor plaza to be used by individual visitors and for library-hosted and private events. Importantly, this space is the first publically-accessible green roof in Cedar Rapids.
A Sustainable Solution
The new library represents a tremendous investment of resources. It was essential that the design be flexible to accommodate the future needs of the community. One method of “future proofing” was the integration of raised access floors as part of the design. These raised floors will allow for the distribution of power, data, and low velocity supply air permitting the collection spaces to evolve over time. The collection spaces were intentionally designed to be very open; they incorporate few walls and a clear span between the columns to allow for the full utilization of the available square footage. Dedicated mechanical spaces and “core functions” are located on the west side of the site in an area that fronts a rail line and parking garage. The southern portion of the site is surface parking, which could be utilized as space for future expansion. The building has achieved LEED Platinum certification. Energy and cost-saving features were integrated into the building design and the roof itself will offer conservation-based educational opportunities for visitors.
- Targeting LEED Platinum Certification
- Designed to exceed the Iowa Energy Code by 55%
- Pump & Re-inject Geothermal HVAC System
- Pre-flood Library used energy at a rate of 100 kbtu/square foot
- New Library designed to use energy at a rate of 37 ktbu/square foot
- Exterior Glazing covers approximately 37% of the building envelope
- Thermally broken aluminum framing
- 1” insulating glass has low-E coating and is argon filled
- Exterior Envelope: R-28, maximized thermal performance
- Daylight Harvesting: (Daylight sensors, dimmable ballasts, and T5/LED Lights
- Use of Natural Light: (15 solatubes and large clerestory on roof)
- Storm Water Management: Retain 90% of normal annual rainfall and 100% of all rainfall up to 1” in a 24 hour period on site.
- 24,000 SF accessible green roof with rainwater harvesting for irrigation
- Pervious paving with storm water collection chambers below parking lot