Carbondale Branch Library / Willis Pember Architects

Carbondale Branch Library / Willis Pember Architects

© Greg Watts © Greg Watts © Greg Watts © Greg Watts + 18

Library  · 
Carbondale, United States
  • Library consulting architects

    Humpries Poli Architects
  • Associate Architects

    Land +Shelter
  • MEP Engineers

    Beaudin Ganze Consulting Engineers
  • Landscape Architects

    DHM design
  • Structural Engineers

    KL&A of Colorado
  • Civil engineering, sustainability consultants

  • Library furniture consultants

    Group 3 Planners
  • Land Planner

    Mark Chain
  • Client

    Garfield County Public Library District
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© Greg Watts
© Greg Watts

"Of Carbondale, not in Carbondale" was the team's statement of intent in achieving a meaningful, organic connection to the community as well as an interconnection to the site that would inform the architecture's making. Carbondale was voted among the "the fifty next great towns" in the US in 2008 by National Geographic and is home to an eclectic mix of artists, architects, foodies, environmentalists and recreationists. The design team researched this history in depth to lay the groundwork for working in this exceptional setting.

© Greg Watts
© Greg Watts

Borrowing from Lawrence Halprin's 60's era outreach efforts in Berkeley, CA, the team developed a Take Part! series of open-house meet and greet sessions with the community. The public met with the designers informally and commented on aspects of design organized by subject; landscape, architecture, sustainability, the library program and entitlements. Initial feedback suggested strong support for landscape 'green walls' and public outdoor space, with less enthusiasm expressed for conventional architectural imagery. 'Illustrations', as a technique of representation, proved most effective in communicating design intent.

© Greg Watts
© Greg Watts

A 'call for entries' from regional artists and artisans to participate and collaborate with the design team on security gates, furniture, light fixtures and column surrounds also brought community arts involvement to the project and enabled the community to feel that their fingerprints on the project.

© Greg Watts
© Greg Watts

The building transitions from a residential scale building at the north to a civic scale presence at the south quad. Green site walls at the margins 'grow' the architecture. Generous outdoor social spaces include a continuous north porch along Sopris Avenue, a reading porch at the quad, an outdoor community table and public blackboard at the NE corner of the site.

© Greg Watts
© Greg Watts

Interiority is created through a varied ceiling hierarchy and is played off a uniform ground plane, creating varied spatial and day-lighting conditions across an open field of program areas.  Circulation was developed with the idea of a choreographed meandering that allows the experience of Mt Sopris to be slowly revealed through a field of architectural encounters as one enters the building. This purposeful slowness is also supportive of the library experience which relies on serendipitous encounters with other library materials and patrons, both inside and outside of the envelope.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

The north porch light well and channel glass rain screen allows southern light to animate the north side entrance. This day-lighting effect forms the representational content of the public face of the library and is intended to seduce.

© Greg Watts
© Greg Watts

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Project location

Address: Carbondale, Colorado 81623, United States

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Carbondale Branch Library / Willis Pember Architects" 01 May 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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