Hacker Architects rethinks the way libraries serve people

Portland-based architects designed the one-story building laid out like a boomerang, with its entrance in the middle, stacks of primary books to the right, and a glazed wing for children to the left. During the museum’s 12-month shutdown, staff rearranged many aspects of the interior, taking advantage of an open, column-free main space that makes it easy to move shelves and furniture to better accommodate traffic. , maintain social distance and function effectively. “It was so much better this second time around,” Newell said.

Flexibility was a key factor in the design from the start. “You need large spaces like this,” says David Keltner, partner of Hacker Architects, “because you need to be able to adjust and place items where you want them. In older libraries, the shape of the building dictates how you should use it.

Ledding Library in Milwaukie, Oregon. Courtesy of Jeremy Bittermann

The open atmosphere of the building is achieved with an exposed timber frame. Ledding’s tight thermal envelope also makes it meet the 2030 challenge. Yet while Hacker has designed many award-winning local libraries with interiors adorned with scalloped woods (like the Beaverton, Hillsdale, and Woodstock branches), Ledding is actually built more like a warehouse (albeit green) and combines glulam beams with single steel beams. “It’s the most affordable structural system you can get, but doing a few things to protect its integrity so it doesn’t get all messed up,” Keltner says, referring to moves like radiant floor heating. , which eliminates the need for ducted ceilings.

The instant popularity of the library is due in part to the fact that the building is not only a place for books, but also a community center, with meeting and relaxation spaces dedicated to visitors of all ages. (A teenage bedroom features a superhero mural, courtesy of neighbor Dark Horse Comics.) There aren’t just books to borrow, but a “library of things,” from weedkillers to laminators and to the air fryer.

Interior of a library showing a large mural of superheroes by Dark Horse Comics
Ledding Library in Milwaukie, Oregon, featuring a mural of superheroes from Dark Horse Comics. Courtesy of Jeremy Bittermann

“Libraries have completely changed,” says Keltner. “At the time, you went there, you got the book back and you left. And architecturally, libraries were those temples, there to impress you with the significance of history and knowledge. They were also exclusive. Today it is not a place to go to look for things but a place to go and To do things. The materials have become more humble, but the architecture tells them, “We are here to serve you. “

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