The Fort Worth Central Library project represents an innovative solution to an unfortunate existing condition. The two-square-block, underground library was constructed in the 1970s and plagued by more than 300 detected leaks, some dating back to its opening. At the same time, the Fort Worth Central Library was in desperate need for expansion space. To meet the client’s budget, scheduling and operations needs we developed a phased approached to solving both major issues.
Phase 1 – New Shell
In lieu of continuing efforts to repair the leaks, we designed a new, two-story shell over the entire site. This new addition was designed to pay homage to Fort Worth’s original Carnegie Library, which had been demolished. The design achieves a sense of permanence and civic importance appropriate for a downtown library, despite the modest budget. To maintain the scale and rhythm of the surrounding urban fabric, the 460’ façade is broken down to read as three distinct building. Two, two-story wing buildings flank a more monumental central building with a pediment entry pavilion centered on the terminus of Lamar Street. Small garden courts, used as a reading garden and an outdoor children’s story telling area, separate the main building massing from the adjacent wings.
This above-ground addition solved the water penetration problem immediately and helped further the Fort Worth Central Library’s fundraising for interior renovations.
Phase 2 – Interior Renovation
The second phase of the Fort Worth Central Library project consists of interior build-out for the new 50,000 SF shell. The addition provides a new public entrance & lobby, circulation desk and circulation department. A sequence of new public spaces links the new lobby and circulation desk with a new Media Library, Youth Library and two stairways serving the existing lover level library areas. The 6,000 square foot Media Library contains open and closed stacks, separate media audio-visual rooms, staff workrooms and offices. The 20,000 square foot Youth Library includes an interactive computer study area and a youth activity room with a stage for various children’s programs. The design for the interior build-out takes advantage of a sloping existing slab above the Basement Level to create an interstitial crawl space under most of the new first floor, allowing easy re-wiring for flexible future technology upgrades.
Design details of the interior relate to the exterior and to the library functions. The large columns that define the Main Lobby are of the same order as those on the building exterior. Guardrails on the stairways and in second story openings incorporate an open book motif. Entering the Youth Library, one passes under a large arch detailed as a rainbow.