While preparing for a new public library project, Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD studies the latest designs. The New York Public Library with help from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation is an interconnected set of learning spaces. The building connects patrons and activity throughout the building. This is very good, but at the same time, it is a reminder that the library program is a challenging effort.
A public library needs to support a variety of functions, and the library program needs to enhance the user experience. It needs to provide users with the learning spaces they desire. This is always changing, requiring us to update our library programming architecture models.
When we programmed the new National Library at the SNFCC, the park was not established yet. The team needed to consider how to create a public space experience, an event hall and library. Looking back, our greatest achievement at the SNFCC library in Athens was its diverse set of learning spaces. We created a center in Athens that was more than just a library.
Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD supports the design and planning of innovative public centers all over the world. One area of experience and skills is development and programming of public library space. We plan adaptable library spaces.
Global Library Planning
While programming with ACG Architectural Consulting Group on the Mohammed bin Rashid Library in Dubai, we made sure the public space was a bridge from the informal to the formal library. As a library consulting and design firm, we ask ourselves, “What did the greatest architects in the world create intentionally?” What were the public buildings vision 100, 200, 300 years ago?
America adopted the architecture of the Italian Renaissance to develop the library of congress. Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of Andrea Palladio. Andrea Palladio modeled the façade of San Giorgio Maggiore after a Greek temple. The new library building takes Palladio and turns it on its head. It reflects the symmetry of renaissance architecture leveraging the latest in building construction and design. For example, the spans allowed us to create great open spaces just as Jefferson would have approved. We wanted to help Dubai project a new architectural renaissance. The library is one of the most inspiring designs of the 21st century and a true experience for the visitor. Below is an example of our children’s library – it is a diverse and effective library program.
When we worked with Studio Seilern Architects in London on an innovative library project in Eldoret Kenya, we analyzed the community and found that the best marathon runners came from the area. We could see there was a global demand for these runners, and we could see that there were opportunities to design this community library. Our central focus needed to reflect the best there can be. The architect designed a running track into the site plan. The track running circumvented the library, so that the kids and families could visit, do some running and learning too. It was designed as a small village with independent learning spaces. We worked with Christina Seilern and Rita Field-Marsham to understand and develop community of the future – “library as public space”
Library Programming and Planning
Where does our public library programming and design come from?
You might say that the public library spaces we programmed are defined by their pieces. We have developed program models for libraries. These come in handy when you want to develop a new library or renovate an existing one. Certainly, we learned that public libraries need to be integrated with its indoor and outdoor environment. We need to make sure the spaces have a healthy flow with windows, natural light and outdoor welcome spaces. Well, you can add park space to a library. It can help you shape and form the site plan to support the community and provide a sustainable environment.
Language of Library Planning
What’s the language of public library architecture today?
Our work reflects the community. We support the sustainable libraries initiative. Our work supports the local community through community engagement activities – interviews, open forums, workshops on library planning and center-making. Aaron Cohen Associates, LTD library programs for public libraries are basically public services defined. For us, it is important to ensure the library is flexible, expandable and sustainable. Our programs enhance the architectural designs. The programming is valuable planning tool. Once created, the program can be changed, providing the most effective net assignable square footage. This is a conservative strategy to make sure the library succeeds in its development.