2013 Recipient | AIA/ALA Library Building Awards

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Oak Forest Neighborhood Library | Notes of Interest

This 7,600-square-foot modern brick and glass structure opened in 1961. Fifty years later, there was still great nostalgia for the library’s mid-century modern design, but the building no longer met the standards of the Houston Public Library system or the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. The 2011 renovations and additions respect the character of the existing library and enhance its accessibility and functionality.

The original building’s restored signature green tile mosaic still graces the parking entry area on the north, but now the neighborhood is welcomed by a tree-shaded second entry and outdoor reading room framed by new dedicated adult and teen areas on the west. The original tile mosaic and globe light canopy of the old circulation desk were restored to create a toddler-sized reading nook. Each age group—from toddlers through teens and adults—now has appropriate facilities, furnishings, and technology. A new lobby and circulation space, lit by a continuous shaded clerestory, occupies the seam between old and new and unites the two entries.

The project exceeded the city’s sustainability goals and is only the second of its buildings to receive LEED® Gold certification.

Additional Credit

  • Accessibility/Furnishings/Graphics: Inclusion By Design
  • Architect - Landscape: The Office of James Burnett
  • Consultant - LEED: The Beck Group
  • Engineer - Civil: Martinez Guy Maybik
  • Engineer - MEP: Jones Engineers
  • Engineer - Structural: Garza McLain

Photo Credit

  • © Light Sensible

Oak Forest Neighborhood Library

  • Architect: NAAA + AWI + JRA
  • Owner: City of Houston - Houston Public Library
  • Location: Houston

Jury Comments

This addition is beautifully respectful of the original design—the new seems to celebrate the original quite thoughtfully.

The project success derives from the simplicity of the scheme and the way the vintage modernism was respected and built upon to create an updated community library.

2013 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards Jury

  • Jeanne M. Jackson, FAIA, Chair
  • VCBO Architecture
  • Salt Lake City
  • John R. Dale, FAIA
  • Harley Ellis Devereaux
  • Los Angeles
  • Charles Forrest
  • Emory University Libraries
  • Atlanta
  • Kathleen Imhoff
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • J. Stuart Pettitt, AIA
  • Straub Pettitt Yaste
  • Clawson, Michigan
  • John F. Szabo
  • Los Angeles Public Library
  • Los Angeles

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