Hastings Public Library Renovation/Addition
Architect: The Clark Enersen Partners
Owner: City of Hastings
Location: Hastings, Nebraska
This renovation and addition to the library serving Hastings, Nebraska, brings transparency and light to a 1962 building that was not aging gracefully. Once dark and dingy, the library has emerged as a beacon of education in the city’s downtown area.
"This shows that a small addition can have a huge impact on the aesthetics of a building." ~ Jury statement
From the outset, the 29,000-square-foot building carried all the trappings of the 1960s: sparse natural light, highly inefficient systems, and asbestos throughout. The existing main entrance required all patrons to ascend several steps on their way in, and the only accessible entrance was relegated to an adjacent alley. The library was organized around three levels, the lowest of which was cut off from the public and adopted for storage. A monumental stairway connecting them lacked adequate safety features.
To bring the library up to date, the design team set its main goals to address accessibility, safety, technology, and energy efficiency. While the site provided little room for expansion, each floorplate was gutted to maximize flexibility. Additions to the library’s north and south sides added an additional 2,554 square feet while drastically improving circulation and the library’s overall appearance. The main entrance was relocated to the library’s southwest corner, eliminating the need for steps and creating a new and dynamic façade.
"We applaud the opening-up of the stair for visual connection and the use of the basement level for patron space." ~ Jury statement
Reenvisioned collection spaces boost their browsability, and one entire floor is now dedicated to the collection for young readers. That floor, vibrant and airy, boasts age-specific technology and programming space. The once-inaccessible lower level now includes nearly 3,000 square feet of flexible maker space, additional multiuse space, storage areas, and the library’s archives. Simple but clear wayfinding ties the spaces together, providing the library with intuitive navigation and a modern identity.
Sustainable features were critical to improving the performance of the aging library. The team employed modeling software to determine the best approach for energy performance and savings. After exploring numerous options for the mechanical systems, the team replaced 10 loud and inefficient rooftop units with a single variable-speed, gas-fired unit. Inside, low- and no-VOC materials and sustainably sourced wood round out the finishes.