Desert Broom Library / richärd+bauer

© Bill Timmerman

Borrowing from the symbiotic relationship of a young saguaro cacti and its nurse tree along the arroyos edge, the expansive roof of this branch library creates a shaded microclimate, providing filtered daylight, shelter and a nurturing environment for intellectual growth. This project’s strength is in the integration of the exterior with the interior of the building.

Architect: richärd+bauer
Location: Phoenix, Arizona,
Project Team: James E. Richard (AIA Designer & Principal-in-Charge), Kelly Bauer (FIIDA Project Manager + Interior Design), Steve Kennedy (AIA, NCARB Project Architect & CA), Erik Koss (RA Project Architect), Stacey Kranz (IIDA, FF+E Speicifications + CA)
MEP Engineer: Energy Systems Design
Civil and Structural Engineer: KPFF, Inc.
Landscape Architect: E-Group
Contractor: Linthicum
Project Area: 15,378 sqf
Photographs: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.

© Bill Timmerman

The roof form extends above an adjoining arroyo 60’ out into the natural desert, creating indoor/outdoor transitional spaces providing and a seamless transition into the desert. These outdoor reading spaces are enclosed and shaded by a series of coiled metal screens, following the natural form of the arroyo, and are cooled by building relief air. The roof is penetrated by a series of openings allowing filtered light into the interior and exterior spaces. Each of the openings is treated with a fritted or colored glass creating an ever-changing series of colors and patterns throughout the space, culminating above the children’s area.


Within the framework of the roof a series of volumes contain the meeting room, information cubes, staff and computer training areas. Mechanical systems are enclosed within these volumes completely eliminating ductwork and allowing for indirect lighting throughout. Above each of the primary service points within the building “Digital Information Cubes” display ever changing representations of digital information which can be seen from the exterior during the evening. The building is sheathed in weathering steel, recalling the rustic quality of the site and rendering the form as a “found object”.

© Bill Timmerman

Wireless internet access allowed the change of quiet study carrels into wireless lounge. Custom end panels design to emulate the braided stream of the desert site. Brilliant desert flora color is integral to the stucco forms designating program space. The children’s area west wall is designed as a demountable wall to expand the space to it plus 5,000 gsf masterplan. With movable sliding wall panels the computer lab can easily be adapted for open public PC access.

© Bill Timmerman

The community has embraced Desert Broom Library. The programmatic response to the community it serves has made Desert Broom a rich and vital part of the Phoenix Neighborhood.

© Bill Timmerman

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Desert Broom Library / richärd+bauer" 10 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Sep 2014. <>

1 comment

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Clean and elegant lines, colors drawn from the best of the desert. The West needs more like this. Please Richard/Bauer, give us more!

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