Columbus Metropolitan Library – Whitehall

Architect: Jonathan Barnes Architects

Owner: Columbus Metropolitan Library

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Accessible and transparent, the project’s simple design goals have fostered a coherency that is evident throughout.

Envisioned as a library for a new generation— as much community center and tech portal as a place to discover books—this new 19,500-square-foot library occupies a 3-acre site on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. Accessible and transparent, the project’s simple design goals have fostered a coherency that is evident throughout.

With entrances signified by terra cotta prosceniums, the pedestrian-scaled, single-story structure’s broadside faces a main arterial road. Surrounded by lawns, meadows, and planting beds, the library’s façades are clad in metal panels complemented by storefront glazing with varying levels of transparency—greater in public areas and less in staff and support areas.

Inside, the library’s public functions are defined by a singular large rectangular space that houses children and teen areas, publicly accessible computers, book stacks, and a quiet room. The simple configuration, flooded by reading-friendly northern light, provides maximum flexibility for the rapidly changing needs of modern libraries. The stacks feature a series of whimsical wooden bookshelves, dotted with unexpected and intimate reading spaces for young people.

Working together to maximize and reflect natural light, the library’s highly polished concrete floor and exposed structural steel ceilings afford pastoral views of the surrounding green space as well as the more urban arterial road, providing context and connection to the community.

Having achieved LEED Silver certification, the library’s sustainable strategies can be noted throughout. Interior fins and external louvers on the library’s west-facing glass control heat gain while still providing quality reading light, and advanced HVAC systems in the public areas provide service from only the perimeter, allowing easy accommodation of new technologies and future opportunities. Further adding to the library’s arsenal of teaching tools, a series of LED screens displays the structure’s energy performance in real time.  

Additional information

Engineer (MEP, civil): Prater Engineering Associates

Engineer (structural): SMBH


Will Bruder, FAIA, (Chair) Will Bruder Architects, Phoenix, Arizona

Duncan Ballash, AIA, EHDD, San Francisco, California

Luren E. Dickinson, Beaumont Library District, Beaumont, California

Ameet Doshi, Georgia Institute of Technology Library, Atlanta, Georgia

Alan Grosenheider, UCSB Library, Santa Barbara, California

Alexander Lamis, FAIA, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, New York City, New York

Image credits


Brad Feinknopf


Brad Feinknopf


Brad Feinknopf


Brad Feinknopf


Brad Feinknopf