The reimagined Tulsa City-County Central Library is one of six library projects to be honored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Library Association (ALA) with an AIA/ALA Library Building Award. A partnership between AIA and ALA’s Library Leadership and Management Association, the award honors the best in library architecture and design. This urban renewal project contributes to the revitalization of a second-tier city’s struggling downtown core by transforming a dilapidated, mid-century modern central library and inhospitable civic plaza into a prized community destination for active learning and creative engagement.
The design team targeted three primary goals for the project:
- Become a downtown destination that contributes to renewal of the urban core.
- Create a library building that responds to 21st-century library needs
- Be generative, positively impacting library users, the surrounding community, the library industry, and the environment.
To achieve these goals, the design team crafted a building program and architectural response that includes:
- Revitalized, humanized civic plaza and new public garden for programming and community events.
- Clear, secure entry sequence in which all ways of entering the library collect into one main lobby area.
- Parking garage with an enclosed two-story link to the library building.
- Innovative, interactive education center for research and development of learning practices.
- Maker space, including a recording studio and simulators, that brings hands-on learning to the library.
- Destination children’s library with direct access to the garden.
- Improved thermal performance of the entire building envelope, daylight harvesting and lighting strategies, and the first rooftop photovoltaic solar array installed on a Tulsa building.
The jury described the renovation as “elegant and timeless.” One juror added, “It maximizes and revitalizes the surrounding neighborhood, which would inspire me to visit more often just to experience its beauty.”