A 115,000 sqft new library built in the heart of uptown Charlotte leads a public library system of 20 branch libraries visited by 3.4 million people a year, aiming to serve as not just a library, but as a public commons. The project is funded by Mecklenburg County and received a major grant by the Knight Foundation, made as the centerpiece of the existing cultural district and burgeoning development in Charlotte’s Uptown. With technological advancements, the library will be a signal investment in a culture of making, thinking and doing, connected deeply to its people and its place.
The building is five stories high and anchors the corner with a glowing, translucent prow that cantilevers over the sidewalk and opening itself to the street. The façade is glazed in a transparent band of glass wrapping around the tapered corner and allowing views inside the library. Visitors are invited under the canopy of a glowing copper soffit that frames the new main entrance on Tryon Street. The open lobby space can be connected to the historic McGlohon Theatre and Duke Energy Theatre next door, and at the rear a new midblock plaza activates different sides of the building in which the public can engage in the surrounding public realm. The clad ceramic panels on the sloped wall of the façade are inspired by North Carolina’s rich history of earthenware and artisanry. It is strategically perforated to modulate light conditions within through the screen and patterned textiles used.
The main library will work as Charlotte’s new public commons and knowledge center, creating a bridge between the past, present and evolving future of the town and connecting with the everyday lives of the people. To ensure that the building meets the dynamically changing needs of contemporary Charlotte-Mecklenburg, it the spaces and activities offered will be made flexible and diverse.