Text description provided by the architects. The design of this 25,405 sqf branch library for the City of Phoenix addresses issues of excellence and affordability in sustainable design. Impacted within a Planned Shopping Center in north Phoenix behind a gas station, car wash, fast food restaurant, and supermarket, the Library’s construction and material pallet quietly draws from, and (re)presents, the language of its retail neighbors.
Stacked bond concrete masonry units and glass enclose the simple rectangular volume of a hard-trowelled concrete floor with carpeted ‘area rugs’, green sandblasted cmu walls, exposed gang-nail trusses, glu-lam beams, steel pipe columns, and sparingly used painted gyp-board interior partitions.
In the tradition of banks, post offices, courthouses, and city halls of fledgling western frontier towns, whose dignified, yet paper-thin street facades belie their utilitarian construction behind, the Library’s ‘false front’ mediates between its two realities: one of a limited budget, the other of the civic presence expected in a public institution. With its torquing false metal scrim curving along the site’s eastern edge of 36th avenue, the Library’s ‘cowboy front’ gives scale, presence, and distinction commensurate with it position in the community.
Constructed in the tradition of the old lathe houses of Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden using off-the-shelf galvanized hat channels, the scale and form of the scrim also recalls the tradition of drive-in movie theaters so common across Post-War American suburbs.