Designed by ikon.5 architects, Kirkwood Public Library is located in New Castle, United States, Set along a commercial shopping strip highway, Kirkwood Public Library is designed as a roadside billboard announcing the public civic function of reading, learning and exploration. The objective was to create a new branch library for a growing diverse community in an accessible area that would serve as the iconic community center of the neighbourhood. Shopping malls and fast food restaurants flank both sides of the site. Large graphic signs litter the highway where this library is sited and a small scale residential neighbourhood is set one block in from the highway site.
It is within this context, that the Kirkwood Public Library appears as a collection of books set on the highway for the community to use. Facing the highway, the building façade of stacked horizontal cement board siding is fashioned as a series of boxes that represent the edge of books piled up on their side. The result of stark geometric abstract forms effectively signs the building and its function to the community along this aggressively commercial environment. Adjacent to the residential neighbourhood, a double height canopy cantilevers from the façade like, providing shelter to the front door.
At the western end of the site, a glazed two-storey reading room is covered in a cedar solar screen. The screen permits desirable views out while controlling solar gain and day light harvesting. Internally, the program is arranged along the length of the highway to increase visibility and to shelter the entry side from traffic.
The Kirkwood Public Library integrates environmentally friendly, high performance green elements such as natural day lighting and views, solar screen and sun shade, low consumption plumbing fixtures, recyclable and low VOC material and bio retention basins.