The building massing reflects the transition from a residential neighborhood to the north to a civic scale presence at the high school quad to the south. Green site walls at the margins 'grow' the architecture and define outdoor rooms. These spaces include a continuous north porch along Sopris Avenue, a reading porch at the quad, an outdoor community table and public blackboard at the NE corner of the site.
Interiority is created through a varied ceiling hierarchy and is played off a uniform ground plane, creating varied spatial and day-lighting conditions across an open field of program areas. Circulation was developed with the idea of a choreographed meandering that allows the experience of Mt Sopris to be slowly revealed through a field of architectural encounters as one enters the building. This purposeful slowness is also supportive of the library experience which relies on serendipitous encounters with other library materials and patrons, both inside and outside of the envelope.
The top-lit north porch light well is made of a channel glass rain screen and allows southern light to animate the north side portico. The play of alpine light forms the representational content of the public face of the library and is intended to seduce.
"Of Carbondale, not in Carbondale" was the team's statement of intent in achieving a meaningful, organic connection to the community as well as an interconnection to the site that would inform the architecture's making. Carbondale was voted among the "the fifty next great towns" in the US in 2008 by National Geographic and is home to an eclectic mix of artists, architects, foodies, environmentalists and recreationists. The design team researched this history in depth to lay the groundwork for working in this exceptional setting.
Borrowing from Lawrence Halprin's 60's era outreach efforts in Berkeley, CA, the team developed a Take Part! series of open-house meet and greet sessions with the community. The public met with the designers informally and commented on aspects of design organized by subject; landscape, architecture, sustainability, the library program and entitlements. Initial feedback suggested strong support for landscape 'green walls' and public outdoor space, with less enthusiasm expressed for conventional architectural imagery. 'Illustrations', as a technique of representation, proved most effective in communicating design intent.
A 'call for entries' from regional artists and artisans to participate and collaborate with the design team on security gates, furniture, light fixtures and column surrounds also brought community arts involvement to the project and enabled the community to further connect with the architecture.