Eye-Popping, Show-Stopping Libraries: Trends and Insights from the AIA/ALA Library Building Awards

Rowman & Littlefield. Nov. 2022. 144p. ISBN 9781538128381. $95. PRO MEDIA
Authors Dahlgren (president, Library Planning Associates) and Forrest (principal, 21CL Consulting, LLC), two visionaries who’ve helped libraries design, build, and renovate their physical spaces since the 1980s, offer a comprehensive examination of library spaces. The book describes the establishment of the Library Building Awards, which recognize innovation and creative adaptation in library spaces and came about through a unique collaboration between the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association. After outlining the history of the awards—the origin of the organizational partnership and the evaluation criteria—the editors recount celebrated winners, from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to the Seattle Public Central Library. More intriguing is a chapter on lesser-known, small-scale projects, many helpfully illustrated with floor plans. A didactic chapter on key examples of architectural styles—from international style to postmodernism—succeeds through strong illustrations (color photographs and monochrome floor plans) and precise verbal descriptions. Subsequent chapters examine building solutions for challenging constraints, such as preserving a beloved but outdated building or responding to small sites, and anomalous, daring designs that challenge community norms. Four appendices document the winning designs, their architects, and the jurors.
VERDICT For all collections supporting architectural design and library administration.
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