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The American Institute of Architects Select Five Recipients for the 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards
Arkansas Studies Institute; Little Rock, AR. Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects. Photo: Timothy Hursley.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected five recipients to receive the 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards. Biennially, representatives from the AIA and the American Library Association (ALA) gather to celebrate the finest examples of library design by architects licensed in the U.S. The 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards honor five separate projects.

The 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards Jury includes: Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, (chair) Marlon Blackwell Architect; Anders Dahlgren, Library Planning Associates, Inc.; Drew Harrington, University of Portland, Dean of the Library; David Moore, AIA, Craig Gaulden and Davis, Inc.; Joanna Pestka, FAIA, NY Public Library; and Thomas Schneiter.

The descriptions below give a brief summary of the projects.

Arkansas Studies Institute; Little Rock, AR
Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects

The project combines three buildings of three different centuries and construction types into one site sensitive architectural timeline, creating a pedestrian focused gateway to the library campus – and the public face of Arkansas history. The design philosophy is based literally on the book - a physical container of information, with multiple curving glass walls of the main façade flowing into a physical narrative of the building’s function. The west façade’s frosted glass fins control sun exposure while displaying historic faces of Arkansas life, like large book marks in time.

KAUST Library; Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

The library crystallizes the architectural ambitions of this university as a contemporary global center for scientific thinking that is rooted in local cultural and place. It engages light to create a marvelous and palpable sense of temporality that enriches its character and makes it an iconic part of its campus. During the day, the translucent stone of the shroud appears to be solid from the exterior but luminous on the interior. This gives the library a robust sense of permanence. In the evening, as the differential light levels between indoors and outdoors flips, the shroud becomes translucent and begins to glow. Through this transformation, the interior is put on display, and library becomes a luminous beacon - representing the campus as a paradigmatic center for thinking, science and learning.

Mattapan Branch Library, Boston Public Library; Boston
William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.

Located in a 96% minority neighborhood with a significant immigrant population this project follows the Mayor Menino’s initiative to bring important civic buildings to the city’s more diverse neighborhoods. With significant amounts of glass looking onto Blue Hill Avenue (the neighborhood’s “Main Street”), this 21,000-square-foot stone and brick building is decidedly open and inviting to the community. A transparent interior courtyard allows daylight to fill the warm, wood-wrapped library spaces and creates a secure children’s gathering area, while strategically-placed entries increase building accessibility. The architects worked with community members of all ages during numerous intensive design sessions to ensure the project would reflect the special character and unique needs of this urban community.

Phoenix Public Library, Harmon Branch; Phoenix
Richard + Bauer Architecture

Celebrating the wide diversity and demographic of the community, the building is conceived as a kaleidoscope. The design involves a primary linear space framed on each end with a large expanse of saw-tooth glass. Colored linear skylights and slot windows along the upper skin refract light throughout the space, casting a dynamic and ever-changing play of color. The interior of the reading area’s upper volume is lined in perforated metal, and lighting and color provide the kaleidoscope effect down the length of the building. The library provides multi-purpose spaces for the vastly different age groups that make up the clientele. Exterior and interior spaces were organized to permit a variety of spatial opportunities without compromising divergent age groups needs.

William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, Ohio State University; Columbus, OH
Gund Partnership, Design Architect; Acock Associates Architects, Architect of Record

Thompson Library is the main library at Ohio State University serving more than 64,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The comprehensive renovation and expansion transformed the library into a center for 21st century learning and a vibrant campus hub. Two new sky-lit atria linked by a glass encased book tower unify the complex and introduce natural light into the library core. A variety of environments were designed to cater to different learning styles and encourage student directed research. Since the September 2009 opening, more than three times the number of students have used the library daily than prior to this project.

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