LOUISVILLE SOUTH CENTRAL REGIONAL LIBRARY | Louisville, Kentucky | 2017
Architects: JRA Architects
Associate Architects: MSR Design
Client: Louisville Free Public Library
General Contractor: Sullivan & Cozart, Inc.
Photographers: Brandon Stengel, Farm Kid Studios
The new South Central Regional Library brings service to a previously underserved area of Louisville. The facility provides 100,000 nearby residents with an accessible, inviting, and healthy place to access, enjoy, and participate in information sharing. The structure is built within the last remnants of a once vast urban forest. All project design decisions were made to celebrate and protect the character and quantity of the existing trees. Over one third of the site was left completely untouched, allowing visitors to have an intimate view into the undisturbed forest. A bosque of existing mature trees was left in the midst of the parking area to shade the pavement and building, as well as create a unique public gathering space dappled with sunlight filtering through the old growth tree canopy. Specimen trees lost during construction were milled into lumber that is featured throughout the new building, while site utilities were carefully routed through existing clearings to avoid damaging delicate roots. The library is a vessel for daylight that aspires to dissolve into the surrounding forest. The stainless steel clad street facing facades literally reflect the building’s surroundings, while the dark stucco clad forest facades fade into the surrounding tree shadows. Surfaces are folded and warped to introduce dynamic reflections and light gradients, as well as to define programmatic functions both inside and out. Color is deployed to highlight featured destinations, while lighting is playfully deployed to occupy the overhead building volume. A column free interior space enables ultimate flexibility for short-term adjustments and adaptability for long-term changes. A pressurized access floor plenum maintains greater occupant comfort with less robust equipment which, when partnered with daylight responsive LED lighting, exceeds the AIA 2030 challenge with systems that are 70% better than a typical public library. The site design minimizes tree disturbance and manages storm water run-off through a parking lot integrated detention reservoir and green roof. Delivering a superior staff and patron experience drove every programmatic decision - the resulting spaces give users choice and flexibility throughout the day. The library system’s first maker space known as the “Collider” houses an artist-in-residence program and hands-on activities that bring information and application together.