by Zohra KhanMay 22, 2020
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of the leading public library facilities in America that invites more than 3.4 million visitors every year across its 20 branch libraries, is planning to set up a new Main Library. To be designed by architectural firm Snøhetta and Clark Nexsen, the five-storey, ceramic clad building will take shape in the heart of Uptown Charlotte in North Carolina.
The project is expected to embrace the mission of becoming more than just a reading facility, and also serve as public-commons, in order to become a signal investment in the burgeoning development of the city.
The design draws itself from the concept of ridgeline, referencing the ancient trading paths carved out by people of the Piedmont region (now called Tryon Street), which also serves as the context of the project. Infused with a rich cultural and topographical influence, the building generates views in a variety of directions and also act as a convergence point that deeply ties people to their place.
A glowing, translucent prow cantilevers out of the sidewalk, opening the built mass to the street. The ground floor features a glazed façade that wraps itself around the tapered corner, bringing views deep into the library. A glowing copper soffit makes for a welcoming canopy at the main entrance that leads to the open lobby space. Further inside, a soaring atrium is animated by a web of spiralling stairs that rise up to the uppermost level of the building. As one tread these steps, the unique views of the neighbourhood through the outdoor terrace spaces on the second and fifth floor come alive.
As per the layout, the active programmes have been positioned on the lower level and as one move upwards, the spaces become fairly private. These various areas within the building include multi-purpose event halls on the lower level; a cafeteria and a theatre on the ground floor; technology centre, computer lab, recording studios on the first floor, and reading rooms and general collection halls spread on the upper floors.
Above the glass podium, on the outside, the building pulls back to reveal western face of the historic McGlohon Theatre, seated next door, thus weaving the structure with its vicinity. Its ceramic façade, which has been drawn from the rich earthernware and artisanry of North Carolina, doubles up as a patterned screen that strategically modulates the influx of natural light coming inside the building.
The project, scheduled to begin in early 2021, will reimagine the vital role of a library with flexible interventions, a visible inside-out approach, and diversity of learning spaces.
Project DetailsName of the project: Charlotte's new Main Library
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Client: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County
Design, Landscape and Interior Architect: Snøhetta
Architect-of-record: Clark Nexsen
Structural Engineer, Sustainability: Thornton Tomasetti
MEP Engineering: McCracken & Lopez
Civil Engineer, Landscape Architect of Record: LandDesign
Construction Management Team: Rodgers Leeper
Project Manager: Mecklenburg County Asset and Facility Management