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UNLV Libraries -> Architecture Studies Library -> Las Vegas Guides and Collections ->
AIA Nevada Design & Service Awards Archive -> 2009 awards -> Foothills Branch Library


Entry number: B09017
Project Name: Foothills Branch Library
Building Type: Public Library Branch
Completion Date: Fall 2008
Building Location: 13226 S Frontage Road, Yuma, AZ
Type of Construction: VB - Steel frame
Materials Used: Cor-Ten, rammed earth, cement fiber board, plaster
Building Area: 15,230 sf

Design Team:
Architecture Firm: Pugsley. Simpson. Coulter. Architects
Architect of Record: Pugsley. Simpson. Coulter. Architects
Yuma County Library District
Interior Designer: Pugsley. Simpson. Coulter. Architects
Landscape Architect: Patterson Thompson Architects
Electrical Engineer: JOL Enterprises, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Walter P. Moore & Associates
Mechanical Engineer: Sternco Mechanical Engineering
Civil Engineer: Dahl Robins & Associates
General Contractor: DPE Construction
Photographer: Sean L. Coulter, AIA, LEED AP

Statement of Design Approach:
The Foothills Branch Library is a 15,200 s.f. facility located in the Foothills area 8 miles east of Yuma, AZ. The flat 4-acre site is situated adjacent to Interstate 8 between the Gila Mountains to the north and east and the Colorado River basin stretching to Mexico 20 miles to the south. The library consists of 3 major functional zones: administration, public-use (multi-purpose room, gallery, etc.) and book-stack areas. The administration block contains offices, book-sorting and storage. The public-use area is used for public functions not necessarily related to library functions, such as town-hall meetings, art displays etc. While the book-stack area contains adult fiction and non-fiction, young people’s library, teen library and computer stations. The material palette was kept simple and homogenous to each of the three forms as described above: cor-ten steel, concrete fi ber-board and locally-mined stone.

Since the advent of digital media, libraries have struggled with an identity crisis - what do they want to be? Are they museums for ‘archaic’ books or are they the new Blockbuster, renting pop-culture videos? These are the type of questions that were raised during the programming process. The Yuma Library District new exactly what they wanted their library to be, they wanted it to bring people together. The Foothills area of Yuma is comprised of 80% retirees that used the existing library as a meeting place to converse and connect with community neighbors. Of the retirees, a vast majority are ‘snowbirds’, only living in Yuma for six months out of the year. As a result, the youth were not using the existing library to its fullest potential, feeling ‘left-out’ and not catered to. Therefore, the primary challenges the Yuma Library District set for the design team were to increase materials circulation and attract more youth and teenagers to the library; in short, they wanted the library to bring the community, as whole, together in one location. How does one ‘connect’ with a nomadic people and create a sense of place for them as well as attract the local youth? The design teams’ approach was to create a ‘community living room’ based on connections. These connections are both physical and metaphysical. On a more metaphysical level, the building allows for people to converse in an open and spacious environment, creates a comfortable and relaxing environment, contains simple, yet interesting architectural forms, materials that challenge the senses and colors that evoke the beauty of the Sonora Desert. On a physical level, the building functions effectively by essentially being one large open space that is easy to navigate. This openness allows for people to explore the library bookstacks freely, feel safe, connect people physically to the desert with panoramic views to the mountains, check out the latest mystery novel, access the internet through databases unique to libraries, offer facilities that are welcoming and appropriate for young people and offer programs that attract not only the typical patron, but the local youth. The hope of the design team is that by considering these connections, the facility will function on both a physical and metaphysical level. In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Marco Polo is speaking to a frustrated Kublai Kahn trying to reconcile, in his head, the perfect space - “seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

Sustainable Description:
In a small community such as Yuma, it can be difficult to convince people of the importance of sustainability. Therefore, the design team began to educate the client on the benefits of a sustainable facility. As the project progressed, the client took it upon themselves to learn about sustainable solutions that would be feasible to them.

In a small community that sees the construction of a new library only once every 50 years or so, budgets are kept to a minimum. Also, working with the facilities department of the Library District, we developed sustainable solutions that did not require special knowledge to operate or maintain. Therefore, most of the solutions implemented were passive techniques specific to a harsh desert environment.

Site orientation was the first consideration. The buildings long axis was kept to an east-west orientation. This allows for daylight to filter into the bookstack area on the north side of the building, this also allows for views to the Gila Mountains to the north and east of the site. The more functional spaces, such as storage, book-sorting, etc. were kept on the south side of the building where minimal fenestration was used.

Material selection is based on local availability and cohesiveness with the desert environment. Recycled cor-ten steel is used on the administration block due to its durability and minimal maintenance. The bookstack block is clad in a dusty blue cement fiber-board that is 100% recycled material and is extremely durable. The public-use block is also clad in a green cement fiber-board reminiscent of the green leaves on the indigenous ocotillo cactus. On the northern portion of the site, a leach field is being used. This has helped in the reduction of cost to install sewer lines connecting to the local sewer system.

Though these are simple sustainable solutions, they are effective for this client and gives them energy savings, minimal maintenance and longevity they were expecting in their new facility.



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Material in ASL Library: Form Core Boards, Project Description Form, Exteriors Photos, Location Map, Site Plan, Floor Plan, and Interior Photos

These images are low-resolution reproductions of the images provided for the AIA Nevada Design Awards. All materials should be considered copyrighted and may not be reproduced or used without permission.

Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:50:06 PST