An educational design

Wednesday 25 Jul 2012

Munoz & Company design the new District 3 Branch Library in Texas

SAN ANTONIO from Munoz & Company has designed the new District 3 Branch Library in San Antonio, Texas. The library is located north of Mission San José, and is part of Southern San Antonio’s architectural revitalisation. Munoz hopes that with the completion of this library and associated meeting spaces, the community will gain a focal resource to upgrade its cultural life and stimulate its retail profile.

The Library’s material palette of sandstone and stucco reflects the history of the site, as does the local craftsmanship that can be observed with the brick bovedas that feature in its entrance, and the decorative patterning found in the wrought iron gates and copper doors. These design components are examples of Mestizo Regionalism, an emerging architectural movement on the US - Mexico border which combines elements of popular culture along with the design aspects that derive from modern technological advancements.

Thus, the building’s design works to exist alongside, rather than override, the cultural precedent set by Mission San José’, which boasts an impressive stone bastion with a granary and a magnificent church. For centuries, San José secured its reputation as a major socio-cultural centre in the New World.

Sustainable design elements include retrieval of previously paved areas with indigenous planting, the collection of rainwater for landscape irrigation, and daylight harvesting with ambient light sensors. The lobby is capped with a series of three domed broke bovedas. The interior brick domes are mirrored on the exterior roof of the lobby volume with stucco clad light gauge metal framed domes each with a skylight penetrating down to the brick bovedas and illuminating the lobby space. The exterior of the building features a two and a half foot rock wainscot that wraps the entire perimeter with white stucco rising above it. The white stucco is punctuated with a series of strategically placed wood windows. Glass display vitrines line the walls and the floor is covered in patterned cement encaustic tile locally known as Mission tile.

Off the lobby are a series of lower height volumes that contain the service spaces for the building. The northwest corner volume houses the restrooms and coffee bar, which can be accessed from the Lobby space. In the next volume, two 1,000 sq ft multi-purpose rooms are accessed off the east side lobby. These rooms are divisible with an acoustically rated operable partition or can be opened into one large single space. Each has a storage room for movable chairs and a door leading out to the north courtyard garden. The north courtyard garden is enclosed by a 10 ft high white stucco on CMU wall that is fitted with eight 8’ x 8’ pivoting wood panels that allow the courtyard to be opened to the rest of the development or secured for use by the library.

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