Set along a commercial shopping strip highway, Kirkwood Public Library is designed as a roadside billboard announcing the public civic function of reading, learning, and exploration. Architecture firm ikon.5 architects, had the opportunity to create a new branch library for a growing diverse community in an accessible area that would serve as the iconic community center of the neighborhood.
Shopping malls and fast food restaurants flank both sides of the site. Large graphic signs litter the highway where this library is sited and a small scale residential neighborhood is set one block in from the highway site. Within this context, Kirkwood Public Library appears as a collection of books set on the highway for the community to use.
Facing the highway, the building facade of stacked horizontal cement board siding is fashioned as a series of boxes that represent the edge of books piled up on their side. The result of abstract geometric forms, effectively illustrates the building and its function to the community along the stark commercial environment.
Adjacent to the residential neighborhood, a double height canopy cantilevers from the facade like a page of a book, providing shelter to the front door. At the western end of the site, a main glazed two story reading room is covered in a cedar solar screen. The screen permits desirable views out while controlling solar gain and day light harvesting. Internally, the program is arranged along the length of the highway to increase visibility and to shelter the entry side from traffic.
The Kirkwood Public Library integrates environmentally friendly, high performance green elements. The greatest use of energy in a library is heating ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting. Crucial steps were taken to reduce energy consumption, water consumption, and volatile organic compositions in materials.