Four Lovely Libraries

John Hill
22. September 2020
Capilano Library, Edmonton, AB, Canada, Patkau Architects (Photo: James Dow + Patkau Architects)

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Library Association have announced the winners of the 2020 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards.

The annual AIA/ALA Library Building Award is billed as "the only award that recognizes entire library structures and all aspects of their design," with the jury* comprised of an equal number of architects and librarians. This year's four winners are presented below in alphabetical order by project name, with quotes from the jury comments. A notable fact is that two of the winners are two of three co-located housing and library developments built in Chicago last year. 

Billie Jean King Main Library, Long Beach, CA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Photo: Fotoworks/Benny Chan)
Billie Jean King Main Library, Long Beach, CA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Jury comments: "This is a beautiful project with 'no back' — all sides are thoughtful and responsive. The client and programming needs seem to have been met if not exceeded. ... The commitment to heavy timber for structural purposes was clearly embraced as an opportunity to create a unique civic structure in a prominent location downtown. The way the building responds to its surroundings, orientation, and programming has resulted in an elegant, restrained, thoughtful, intricate yet refined, warm, welcoming building that is 'of its time' and is like no other civic building on this scale I have ever experienced."

Billie Jean King Main Library, Long Beach, CA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Photo: Fotoworks/Benny Chan)
Capilano Library, Edmonton, AB, Canada, Patkau Architects (Photo: James Dow + Patkau Architects)
Capilano Library, Edmonton, AB, Canada, Patkau Architects

Jury comments: "By acknowledging the ravine, the library provides visitors and staff with a place of reverence for knowledge and nature while creating a tranquil edge to its community. "

Capilano Library, Edmonton, AB, Canada, Patkau Architects (Photo: James Dow + Patkau Architects)
Independence Library and Apartments, Chicago, IL, John Ronan Architects (Photo: James Florio)
Independence Library and Apartments, Chicago, IL, John Ronan Architects

Jury comments: "Wonderful mix of materials....Concrete structure uses materials (cement, stone aggregate, sand, water) local to the site."

Independence Library and Apartments, Chicago, IL, John Ronan Architects (Photo: James Florio)
Northtown Branch Library and Apartments, Chicago, IL, Perkins and Will (Photo: James Steinkamp Photography)
Northtown Branch Library and Apartments, Chicago, IL, Perkins and Will

Jury comments: "Combines affordable senior housing and was incorporated as a 'connection' and not a separation. ... At 71% energy use reduction, the project exceeded its goal and meets the AIA’s 2030 Commitment."

Northtown Branch Library and Apartments, Chicago, IL, Perkins and Will (Photo: James Steinkamp Photography)
Visit the AIA website for more photos and information on the winners.
*2020 Jury for AIA/ALA Library Building Awards:

  • Jennifer Yoos (Chair), VJAA, Minneapolis, MN
  • Ann Beha, Ann Beha Architects,  Boston, MA
  • Erin Sterling Lewis, in situ studio, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Kimberly Johnson, Tulsa City-County Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Clint S. Rudy, Suffolk Public Library, Suffolk, Virginia
  • Gail Scanlon, Philips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire

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