Johnston Architects pllc design library inspired by the rich culture of the city
The Seattle Public Library - South Park Branch was truly built for its community. The modest, largely Latino neighborhood of South Park is rich with culture, livelihood and diversity. For nearly 100 years, the citizens of South Park rallied to bring a library to their community. It is through their dedication, persistence and perseverance that the library was built.
The community's vibrant spirit served as the inspiration for the design. The exterior courtyard or "plaza" welcomes the public and serves as an open gathering space. The fluid floor plan, abundant natural light and lucid study rooms bring the outdoor courtyard within. Cedar is used throughout the library to pay homage to the Northwest. While the solid blocks clad in red stucco are a reference to the area's Latin American flavour. Projected images illuminate the western exterior wall with art work by Seattle artist Franklin Joyce. As the exterior courtyard incorporates a paving pattern representing the original course of the Duwamish River which winds along the eastern edge of the community.
The primary challenge presented by this 5,000 square-foot library was to express the community's ethnic heritage, within the bounds of the very specialized needs of a library. The South Park Branch altered the standard library program for its size by opting for generous ESL spaces and an oversized children's area in place of a large meeting room. The community strongly urged the design team to give that space back to the library, specifically a larger area for its youngest users. The result is a highly visible children's area on the most prominent corner of the building that is energetic and inviting during the library's hours of operation.
The Seattle Public Library - South Park Branch is more than just a library; it is a space that both exudes and embraces the heart and soul of the South Park area, a vibrant place where people can find a sense of belonging and community.