Project of the Year: Waunakee Public Library

InBusiness Commercial Design Award 2020Waunakee Public Library has been named Project of the Year and Best Development – Education in this year’s Commercial Design Awards, sponsored by InBusiness magazine.

The vibrant, multipurpose new 40,000 square foot public library serves as a space for the community to gather, collaborate, and celebrate through a design that embraces openness. The lobby establishes a dramatic entry and unites the two intersecting rectangular volumes representing the library and a community hall.


2020 004 07

Sited on an abandoned brownfield site, paralleling a creek and near the village’s downtown historic main street district, the building’s form creates a large public outdoor space between the building and the creek that can be used for recreation and public programming. Elevated from the recreation trail and complemented with enhanced creek edge and other landscape improvements, the library overlooks this new park-like setting appropriate to its role as a beacon in the community. Vehicular circulation allows a through connection to local streets while avoiding a large centralized parking lot.  A new pedestrian bridge over the creek connects to overflow parking and provides an important pedestrian connection to downtown.

2020 004 012

A central staircase connects the two-level library space and defines the primary circulation order. On the first floor, a power wall, and flexible shelving reinforce a retail mentality, while self-serve and staff kiosks replace a traditional circulation desk. Beyond the lobby a glass wall with playful graphics signals the children’s area, where an emphasis on interactivity engages young visitors and their caretakers.

2020 004 08

A flexible community hall that accommodates 100 to 200 people, is designed to be available during non-library hours and has a moveable exterior wall which opens to an outdoor patio to allow for expanded programming. A variety of open and closed study spaces and small meeting rooms reinforce the libraries role as a community gathering spot. Likewise, public art and local craftsmanship – including a custom live-edge boardroom table – reclaimed barnwood cladding, and an installation dedicated to the village’s history told with graphics and artifacts, all reflect and respect the community’s roots.

Throughout, clear sight lines and open vertical circulation allow users to easily navigate the space. Expansive windows on the second floor in the adult collection and community living room provide an abundance of natural light and views toward the creek and downtown beyond and emphasize the theme of transparency and connectivity.

Timeless brick and stone cladding respond to the materials used on nearby downtown properties, and large windows. A green roof and a solar array set a standard for the village’s mission as environmental stewards.

2020 004 06

The annual contest is open to projects in the Greater Madison area. This year’s awards were judged by Mark Fenton, senior vice president, Leopardo Interiors Group, Chicago, Illinois; Marc Manack, principal, Silo AR+D, Charlotte, North Carolina; and Russell Manthy, principal, IA Architects, New York City.

Typically, projects are honored at a ceremony in April. Due to COVID-19, this year’s projects are celebrated online. See all the winners in the April issue of the magazine.