Cedar Rapids Public Library

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Client
    City of Cedar Rapids
  • SQ. FT.
  • Budget
  • Market
  • Leed
    LEED Platinum
  • Year
  • 2017 • American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
    Excellence in Sustainability Award
  • 2017 • Institute of Museum and Library Services
    National Medal for Museum and Library Studies
  • 2015 • Library Journal
    Landmark Library
  • 2015 • American Institute of Architects & American Library Association
    Library Building Award
  • 2015 • 1,000 Friends of Iowa
    Best Development Award
  • 2014 • American Institute of Architects, Central States Region
    Merit Award
  • 2014 • American Library Association & the International Interior Design Association
    Interior Design Honorable Mention
  • 2014 • Shaw Contract Group
    Design is…Award
  • 2014 • GALE “Libraries Are Beautiful” Photo Contest
    “Best Curb Appeal” Honorable Mention
  • 2014 • Illuminating Engineering Society
    Merit Award
  • 2014 • ASHRAE Technology Award, Midwest Region
    First Place

After a devastating flood, a community needed to rebuild for the future. The new 95,000 square foot library was designed with transparency, multipurpose use and collaboration in mind.

In June 2008 a destructive flood swept through Cedar Rapids. The loss of the 25-year-old library was particularly devastating. Approximately 200,000 items in the collection were ruined as well as furniture, electronics and equipment were destroyed. A dedicated team of community volunteers and the Library Board of Trustees kicked off a campaign to re-envision how the library should function and to find a new home for this important public resource.

The new library was built on Greene Square, a large urban plaza near the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, a network of public gathering spaces. The library’s interior offers patrons and building users unprecedented views to the urban and park settings beyond, connecting them to civic art, public gathering spaces, and programmed events.

The new 95,000 square foot library is designed to be a vibrant, multipurpose destination and a space for the community to mix and collaborate. The design of the new library was driven by the desire to embrace openness, transparency and foster public engagement with and within the space. With those principles in mind, the team looked for innovative ways to present vistas and views throughout the structure while visually connecting the streetscape with the functions occurring within the building.

The views in and out of the collection spaces are seen from nearly every vantage point around the new library. A 200-seat auditorium situated on the second and third levels looks outward toward Greene Square. The auditorium stage is set against a curtain wall of glass allowing for the changing seasons and cityscape to serve as a living backdrop.

It was an opportunity for us to ask: ‘What do we want in a library? What does the community really need? What couldn’t we do in our old space that we can do this time?’

— Amber Mussman, Cedar Rapids Public Library

Centralized Services

The central space of the library is the Service Core Zone. This space brings together all of the core patron services in a hub and spoke system allowing users to orient themselves in the building as well as gather to meet. The spaces and mixing of circulation paths is most clearly expressed within this zone. The zone was designed with clear sight lines and open vertical circulation to allow users to readily navigate their way to various destinations.

The 24,000 square foot green roof provides an attractive space for library patrons to gather while offering yet another set of views and visual access to the surrounding cityscape. Functionally, the roof will aid in waste water management while serving as an outdoor plaza to be used by individual visitors and for library-hosted and private events. Importantly, this space is the first publicly-accessible green roof in Cedar Rapids.

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