Rosa F. Keller Library and Community Center
Owner: New Orleans Public Library
Location: New Orleans
The new library and restored community center provide the neighborhood with an innovative facility that offers opportunities to engage with technology and alternative educational outreach programs.
A testament to a community’s recovery, this library is located in the heart of New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood, where flooding from Hurricane Katrina was especially devastating. Funded entirely through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s recovery program, the project involved the restoration of a 1917 Arts and Crafts bungalow that serves as a community center and reconstruction of an adjacent 6,300-square-foot library wing.
Rejecting a former mayor’s “green dot plan” that called for returning certain areas of the city to green space—Broadmoor is located squarely in one of those areas—residents fought to have their community library rebuilt. As public buildings have helped lead the city’s rebirth, Broadmoor’s new library proudly proclaims that the neighborhood is thriving. Inside the community center, the Green Dot Café skewers the earlier call to abandon Broadmoor.
Together, the new library and restored community center provide the neighborhood with an innovative 21st-century facility that offers ample opportunities to engage with technology and alternative educational outreach programs. To connect the two buildings physically and programmatically—a requirement of the program brief—the design team implemented a glass corridor link that serves as both a main entrance and allows both to function independently.
Since the facility serves a community that suffered so greatly from the failure of its civic structures, the design team pursued aggressive goals for resilience and sustainability. The project has achieved LEED Silver certification, with all its aspects bearing hallmarks of sensitive community engagement. Key programmatic elements—evident in the catering kitchen and café—reference the importance of culture as the driving force that helps communities recover from disaster. With food and its preparation playing a pivotal role in the lives of so many Louisianans, the adjacency of food and words is the perfect match for a very New Orleans–style approach to sustainability.