2011 Recipient | AIA/ALA Library Building Awards

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Harmon Library, Phoenix Public Library | Notes of Interest

This is a small library in the heart of an urban park in downtown Phoenix. Over time the diverse neighborhood has integrated the library as a key element within the community: a place to connect for adults and an important after-school resource for working families.

Celebrating the wide diversity and demographic of the community, the building is conceived as a kaleidoscope. The design involves a primary linear space framed on each end with a large expanse of saw-tooth glass. Colored linear skylights and slot windows along the upper skin refract light throughout the space, casting a dynamic and ever-changing play of color. The interior of the reading area’s upper volume is lined in perforated metal, and lighting and color provide the kaleidoscope effect down the length of the building.

Establishing a core reading area, the 25’ high central volume suspends graphic panels from the structural trusses, composing a lyrical play of texture and color reflecting across floor, walls, and furniture.

The library provides multi-purpose spaces for the vastly different age groups that make up the clientele. Exterior and interior spaces were organized to permit a variety of spatial opportunities without compromising divergent age groups needs. Large sliding doors open to provide flexible meeting space for community gatherings. Open courtyards are organized adjacent to each age group’s spaces. The 12,500 square foot building includes a large public meeting room, dedicated study space and exterior garden courts.

Additional Credits

  • Civil Engineer: KPFF, Inc.
  • Landscape Architect: Green Studio
  • Mechanical Engineer: Energy Systems Design, Inc.
  • Electrical Engineer: OMB, Inc.
  • Structural Engineer: Paragon Structural Design, Inc.
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  • Photo Credit: © James E. Richärd

Harmon Library, Phoenix Public Library

Jury Comments

Here is a powerful community space delivered through a simple, open, effective floorplan.

The uplifting, light, upper volume transforms the space into something more- something almost spiritual.

Elements like the simple furniture are consistent with the project’s overall idea of resourcefulness— simple, humble details done right

Notable is the real economy here: a limited number of brushstrokes, each one done so very effectively.

2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards Jury

  • Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Chair
  • Marlon Blackwell Architect
  • Fayetteville, Ark.
  • Anders Dahlgren
  • Library Planning Associates, Inc.
  • Normal, Ill. 
  • Drew Harrington
  • University of Portland, Dean of the Library
  • Portland, Ore.
  • David Moore, AIA
  • Craig Gaulden and Davis, Inc.
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Joanna Pestka, FAIA
  • NY Public Library
  • New York City
  • Thomas Schneiter
  • Library Consulting, High-Density Storage
  • Madison, Conn.

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