by Jerry ElengicalSep 17, 2022
Adjaye Associates has designed an ambitious civic and cultural hub in Florida, the United States, called the Winter Park Library & Events Center, resting on the northwest corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, embodying the values of the park’s namesake. The three complex village, comprising a new two-story library, an event centre topped with a roof terrace, and an extensive welcome portico, the Porte Cochère, that ushers visitors from the street and connects the three pavilions, is envisaged as a space for community empowerment and edification. “As part of an extensive revitalisation of the park, the new hub is in harmony with the unique tropical ecology of the site and is conceived as a micro-village of three pavilions, each of different scale and function but which share a common formal language," says the firm led by world-renowned architect, Sir David Adjaye.
Designed with a total budget of $41.7M, the pavilions clothed in rose-pigmented concrete are informed heavily by biophilic design principles and rest on a raised belvedere that commands fine views of Lake Mendsen. This results in raised connectivity to the park’s wellness offerings and assists in a fresh network of outside verdant community spaces that grow between the three volumes made distinct with vaulted rooflines and sweeping windows. Apart from offering an extensive book collection, the library will host events, performances, and films, as well as flexible working and maker spaces, surrounded by local greens such as lofty palms that brush the buildings' top in places.
"It’s been humbling and inspiring to work together with the City of Winter Park and the many local champions of this project to realise this 21st century prototype of a multi-purpose knowledge campus in the public realm. As a centerpiece of the revitalised MLK Jr. Park, the new campus is designed as a robust space for community gathering, edification, and empowerment,” says Adjaye.
The arches establishing the distinct lakeside Winter Park Library & Events Center draw influence from the local fauna and the region’s vernacular architecture, setting a pervious dialogue between the interior design and the exterior skin, channelling sunlight deep into the diverse institutional architecture.
The open plan of the library design supports collection spaces that are accessible to all ages and abilities of visitors, made interactive to appeal to the youth, old and children alike with designated and informal collection spaces, augmented by an indoor auditorium, a recording studio, technology portals, an entrepreneurship centre, all flowing into education spaces, "extending the means by which the entire community can interact, learn, and gather,” the design team relays. These open areas are framed by four timber-lined cores accommodating Winter Park’s historical and archival collection spaces, support zones, and private reading rooms.
Featuring a flexible auditorium space, a grand ballroom of 250 seated tables or 320 theatre-style seats for gatherings and meetings, a rooftop meeting room accommodating up to 50 guests as well as a rooftop terrace overlooking the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park with a capacity of 150 guests, the Tiedtke Amphitheatre for events and performances, tiered outdoor seating for event viewing or simply relaxing, and pre-event rooms for weddings and special occasions, the Events Center creates parity between the civic library space and its own commercially focused typology. Both the library and the centre come alive with signature and bespoke sculptural staircases winding royally within. The decorated program also includes flexible floor plates for both the pavilions, encouraging cross-pollination and maximising adaptability for each volume of the concrete architecture.
“As an ensemble, the Winter Park Library & Events Center comes together as a space of social gathering, intellectual nourishment, and enhanced connection to its natural tropical context,” shares Adjaye.
Measures of sustainability
Locally sourced materials, energy production via solar panels and a stormwater irrigation system form the core of the landmark architecture’s sustainability led design. The latter’s management will be centralised underneath the parking lot structure – stormwater percolates through the porous parking volume to a subbase of granite, eventually cumulating in the Lake Mendsen that lies adjacent after a surge. As part of the irrigation system, the water is then reused to hydrate the verdant, natural landscape that surrounds the library. “The solar panel modules are installed with a total of 25.1 KW capacity. Annual production is estimated to be 37,865 KWH,” informs Adjaye Associates.
All materials used externally are registered in Florida, the interior ones nationally sourced while the pre-cast façade material has been secured within 25 miles of the site. All included live vegetation is native and regionally acquired.
Studying the natural solar path, the three volumes enjoy orchestrated orientation that works off of each other to create pockets of shade to each other’s programs – The Events Center shades the Library events in the morning, while the Library provides shade for the Events Center in the late afternoon. The orientation also warrants a shaded microclimate blooming between the two, connecting further to the public zones of the village.
The overhangs of the Winter Park Library & Events Center provide direct shading, especially with the south-facing glass, forming the preamble for passive sustainable design strategies included. Angled glass ensures lower angles of solar incidence that permit added reflection of direct natural light, resulting in reduced solar heat gain and enhanced light within. The curved exterior walls provide wings to help shade the glass along the corners and the continuous exterior insulation on the precast concrete reduces direct energy loss through the building’s skin. “High thermal mass structure provides means to absorb heat and humidity thereby reducing peak loads and allowing space temperature and humidity to be more consistent,” the Ghanian-British architect says.
The Winter Park Library opened its doors to the public on December 11, 2021, with the celebrated architect behind the project in attendance. “A project like this comes along once in a generation, and we are so grateful to the visionary library and city leadership that made this dream a reality. The doors have opened to a world of opportunity for our residents. The new library connects people to knowledge and resources in a way that wasn’t possible before,” said Sabrina Bernat, Library executive director at the opening event.
Name: Winter Park Library & Events Center
Location: Winter Park, Florida, The United States
Area: 5,184 sqm – Library: 3,266 sqm; Events Centre: 1690.83 sqm; Porte Cochère: 228.26 sqm
Year of completion: 2021
Client: The City of Winter Park
Design Architect: Adjaye Associates
Architect of Record: HuntonBrady Architects
Acoustical Design: Gary Seibein
Civil Engineer & Landscape Architect: Land Design
Envelope Consultant: Thornton Tomasetti
Food Service Design: Phil Bean
General Contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie
Owner’s Representative: The Pizzutti Companies
Signage Consultant: Poblocki
Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection Engineer + Audio Visual & Security: TLC Engineering