Thesis: Roanoke Public Library
Roanoke, VA | 2011-2012
With changing technologies, the architecture of a modern library should consequently evolve from a silent sole keeper of records toward an interactive space in the community.
The proposed Roanoke Public Library seeks a more active architecture through the offering of a great public space with natural light, its visual transparency, and a significant physical presence in the community.
Additional content and a copy of my thesis book can be viewed on Issuu
Lighting model showing diffused lighting around study area.
Downtown Roanoke Site Model
The architecture of Roanoke ranges greatly from the traditional brick and mortar storefronts, to a small skyline dominated by Wells Fargo. The sharp modern edges of the Taubman Art Museum add to the range of building elevations and volumes, as they vary significantly much like the surrounding mountainous landscape. At this point, the city lacks a true architectural identity with a majority of the outspoken population favoring a imitative language of traditional roots.
Site Plan and Program Graphs
The program of the proposed library achieves a complete library/media center to appeal to a larger portion of the community. It offers access to both digital and physical media. The library will be a go-to destination downtown for those interested in literature, technology, education, film, art, music and more. It will also act as a community center and public forum that allows the city’s residents a place to meet and socialize. These changes and additions in program are essential in redefining what a library is and a large step in once again making it an important and influential part of the city
The core of the proposed library serves as the access through the building and extends through the site. What started as a core tucked against the North side of the site, stretched to one that created a pathway between the intersection and the ‘Center in the Square’.
Inside The Access Core
The evolved core is a heavy concrete structure with two thick concrete walls bending through the site and contains a stairway that leads to each of the library’s six floors. Volumetric subtractions in the three foot thickness of the wall define entrances into the reading floors and contrast between the heavy walls and the light and open space of the reading levels. In the core, small openings allow for views to the outside to help the visitor better orient themselves to the site but also preserve the tranquility of the space. Natural light is able to filter in from above, which changes the curved space throughout the day.
The central reading space underwent a series of iterations to not only test light penetration to each level, but also to study the relation to the access core. These study models helped to better examine natural light fall off due to the rotating and resizing of the elliptical openings of each floor. The light studies suggested elliptical openings in the floor slabs that shared a common point in the plan and increased in size from there. This allowed for evenly distributed light rings between the levels.
Light Model On Site
Natural light is an important consideration in the design of this library. People typically enjoy the presence of natural light, because of the multitude of positive attributes. In this proposal, natural light has presence throughout the space and is not limited to the perimeter. Spatial boundaries and circulation are also supported by delineated illumination with natural light.
Looking Down Reading/Study Atrium
A skylight over the atrium distributes natural diffused light through the center of the reading floors. A study of the atrium opening tested the light ‘halos’ present on each ring including their connection to the core wall to allow for usable desk space around the five rings throughout the day.
Plans + Longitudinal Sections
A series of reading areas step toward a skylight forming an atrium at the center of the floor plan. Consecutive increases in the floor slabs, with the smallest ring at the second floor, and the largest the sixth floor, allows natural light to reach each level. The floors are also recessed on the southern side, allowing for more private, naturally-lit reading space and views out toward Mill Mountain.
North Entrance From Downtown
The south entrance is pointed at the intersection of Williamson Rd and Church Ave while the north entrance (shown) lines a short path connecting the library with downtown. Event spaces are located on either side of the building to further activate the site and attract more people to the library.
View Through the Book Stacks
Natural light guides the reader through the space without damaging books. The book stacks are safely tucked under the floor above them and artificially lit. Natural light appears at the edges but not on the books themselves. This contrast in lighting allows for a natural boundary between the reading spaces and stacks.
Screen Render With Section
A louvered three layered screen along the south wall allows for visual transparency and diffuses the incoming natural lighting along the perimeter. This allows for more even natural light into the reading space.
The architecture of the new Roanoke Public Library attempts to be an active institution, almost in opposition to the traditional brick and mortar storefronts. It acquires a presence by filling in the abandoned corner at the intersection and continues the rolling elevations of the city.
Twilight Render Of The New Downtown Roanoke
The importance and presence of libraries has diminished in a society where technology has made information readily available. This thesis suggest that the typology of a modern library needs to embrace both books and technology. Most importantly, to survive as a an institution, it needs to define an architecturally strong civic space. The proposed Roanoke Public Library attempts to fill a void in downtown and becomes an active member of the downtown ensemble. Its major space offers not only place to read but a civic refuge with great views toward the mountains and the city.