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McAllen Main Library

This project's primary challenge involved converting a Walmart big box store into a highly functional, flexible, 124,500 square-foot library on a single level. With an area equivalent to nearly 2 1/2 football fields, the building is the largest single-story library in the U.S. 

The designers had the old store interior and new mechanical systems painted white to form a neutral shell for patron and service areas, which are designated with color. Primary program areas—including community meeting rooms, the children’s library, adult services, and the staff area—are located in quadrants of the building. This clear organization allows easy wayfinding and patron access from a central service spine, delineated by a patterned wood ceiling that runs the length of the building. MSR led the design of the building interior and furniture selection as part of a team led by McAllen-based firm Boultinghouse Simpson Architects.

 “The McAllen Main Library represents an important shift in American cultural attitudes toward tolerating big box, suburban structures. The interior spaces have been dramatically transformed from a warehouse to a place with a sense of intimacy.”
—National AIA Honor Awards Jury
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