The Foothills Library in Yuma, AZ is a 15,000 s.f. branch library in the Yuma County Library District. The facility will serve the eastern portion of Yuma known as Foothills, located approximately 10 miles east of town at the base of the Gila mountains in far southwest Arizona. The flat non-descript site is located adjacent to Interstate 8 with views to the mountain range to the north and east. The Foothills area is predominately comprised of senior citizens that have recently retired from all parts of the United States. The community members expressed a need for a gathering place where they could socialize and gain knowledge. The design of the project reflects this need by creating a "community living room" giving the community a sense of "place". The entire library is centered on this living room concept with all spaces focused on the large open plan with views to the Gila Mountains.
The project is comprised of three simple forms that make up the building; 1) Administration block, 2) Conference Room block and 3) the open Bookstack block. Each of the three pieces is clad in different materials that flow from the exterior to the interior of the building helping with way-finding and giving the large open space an outdoor quality. Due to a limited budget and limited resources in the Yuma area; the use of easily obtainable materials were used on the project, they are; corrugated weathered steel (administration block), cement plaster (conference room block) and cement board w/ rammed earth (bookstack block). The forms of the building come from the almost contradictory notion of farming in the desert; bright green crops in a dusty hot desert. The administration and conference blocks are indicative of the mountains jutting up from the desert floor. The ceiling of the bookstack block represents the high Sirius clouds that are prevalent during the monsoon season while the books (nourishment for the mind) reflect the life-giving crops on the desert floor that are so prevalent in and around Yuma.
The hot summers and mild winters along with ample sunlight allows for wonderful natural light to filter into the library spaces. The north facade is comprised of deep overhangs with large expanses of glazing with views to the mountains beyond while the fenestration on the east, south and west walls were kept to a minimum to protect from the summer sun.
2008 AIA Las Vegas “Unbuilt Las Vegas”. ASL has entry board #08UB01.
AIA Nevada Design Awards (2007) Entry No. UB07008, Submission.
UNLV Architecture Studies Library holds: Form Core Boards, Project Identification Form, Photo Release Form, Intern Compensation Disclaimer Form, Project Entry Form, Exteriors Photos, Site Plan, Floor Plans, Interior Photos and CD
From the client's perspective, sustainability was not an important part of the project. It was our role as architects to educate the client on the importance and necessity of sustainable practices throughout the process of this project; with a limited budget and located in such a remote part of the United States, this was going to be difficult.
With a limited budget and resources we began by establishing a hierarchy of design principles that could be implemented with the least amount of resistance. Due to the sites remoteness, a leach field was used to minimize costs but more importantly, minimize waste having to be processed. It was also established that the summer heat and sunlight were both our biggest obstacles and our biggest assets. Therefore, the building became a study in passive solar strategies. While the southwest corner of the building wanted to be the main entrance, the question was how to protect it from the afternoon summer sun. Basic strategies were used; recess the entrance to the point where it resembles entering a cave in the mountains surrounding the valley. The east wall of the library has small punched openings that allow for playful light to filter into the space while the south and west facades limit the use of fenestration. The north facade is almost entirely of glass protected by a large overhang to allow natural light into the space limiting the use of artificial light and giving the space a warm glow that is comfortable for reading. Deeper into the bookstack area small solar tube skylights are used to bring filtered natural light into the reading spaces along the south wall of the bookstack block.
Another principle used that the entire team could agree to was to keep the amount of walls to a minimum. The idea was; the fewer walls used, the less material used. Everyone agreed that that would be a good sustainable practice. Looking at the floor plan, full-height walls were only used where noise was a concern. Where divisions were required (i.e., teen area to adult books) walls were kept to a minimum height.
There are no glamorous sustainable solutions as part of this project; there are simple passive responses to a harsh desert climate. We began with a modest budget and resources; we finished knowing that the client has new-found knowledge of sustainable practices and a building that will perform better than they had hoped.