Lawrence Public Library / Gould Evans

The expansion of a 1970s Brutalist-style library in downtown Lawrence, Kansas has transformed it architecturally, reinventing it as a 21st century civic place. The existing library, designed by Lawrence architecture firm Robertson, Peters Ericson, Williams P.A. and constructed in 1972, was uninviting due to poor thermal performance, difficult wayfinding and a lack of daylighting and openness. Library attendance was down, particularly with younger generations. Through extensive community dialogue, the citizens of Lawrence voiced their thoughts and established key design considerations for the project, including an enhanced children’s area, greater access to technology and an emphasis on environmental sustainability. The citizens recognized the significance of the library’s location in the community and the opportunity it provided to establish a new “place” within the downtown area. Gould Evans responded with a design that addresses the changing role of the library: from book repository to multimedia community hub.