Our Work

Madison Central Library

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    • originally built in the 1960s, the reconstructed Madison Central Library now feels like a completely new library
    • Overview

      “Welcome to a new library. Not just a downtown institution that’s been renovated, renewed, and expanded. . . . But a whole new concept in libraries. . . . Gone is the cramped and dismal interior of the library’s predecessor, replaced with a sense of spaciousness and natural light.”

      —Gayle Worland, Wisconsin State Journal

      Dilapidated and located in a part of downtown considered by many residents to be unsafe, the Madison Central Library was neither well-used or well-loved. The client’s goals included reimagining how the library provides service to all citizens and how it can stay relevant as needs evolve. The design team completely transformed the 45-year-old building, creating a popular and vibrant community amenity that has spurred urban redevelopment. The addition of a third floor with a commons, gallery, and meeting rooms, and gathering spaces throughout the building create a cultural hub for Madison’s citizens. Certified LEED-NC v.3 Gold, the project features a green roof with on-site renewable energy provided by photovoltaic panels.

    • the day-lit third floor addition houses meeting rooms, an art gallery, and administrative offices, as well as a reading room and terrace that can be rented for private events
    • to accommodate after-hours events, custom-designed moveable wood screens can close off the library from the open atrium that leads to the third floor
    • located throughout the library, glass-enclosed meeting rooms in a variety of sizes can be reserved for individual or group study and community meetings
    • living room-like spaces on the first and second floors offer good lighting, comfortable seating, and plenty of integrated power and data plug-ins
    • along with the library's community spaces, books, computers, iPads, and Wi-Fi access, patrons also enjoy a new cafe and bookstore
    • other new popular amenities include a making space and a production lab, both of which offer opportunities for activities ranging from printmaking to stop motion animation
    • with an identity all its own, the teen's area offers space for study, play, and socializing
    • the bright and whimsical children's area evokes an open meadow, with vibrant colors, child-sized fixtures, and reading nooks that light up when a child crawls in
    • before the reconstruction, the library interior was dark and inward-looking; the former stack area shown here now houses the children's area
    • the exterior was dated and unfriendly; the addition of windows now offers views into the library, visually opening it to the neighborhood
    • the new glass atrium, large window openings, and changing LED-lit panels create a vibrant civic presence for the downtown library
    • the library now complements its new cultural and commercial neighbors, helping to further revitalize an area near the Capitol that had been in decline
    • Awards

      American Library Association (ALA)/International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Library Interior Design Award (Category: Public Libraries Over 30,000 Square Feet).

      Interior Design Magazine Best of Year Honoree (Institutional: Other category).

      Library Journal New Landmark Library.

      One of the American Public Works Association (APWA) Projects of the Year (2014).

      APWA Wisconsin Chapter Project of the Year (2014).

      IIDA Northland FAB Award for Excellence in Sustainability.

    • Specifications

      Location: Madison, Wisconsin

      Type: Renovation/expansion

      Size: 95,000 square feet (renovation); 25,000 square feet (expansion)

      Sustainable design: LEED Gold-registered

    • Project Contact

      Jeffrey Scherer

      • Architect / Principal
      • jeffrey@msrdesign.com
      • 612 359 3223
      • View Bio

      Traci Engel Lesneski

      • Interior Designer / Principal
      • traci@msrdesign.com
      • 612 991 7764
      • View Bio