A Library with Curb Appeal

At the junction of Columbus’ most dynamic neighborhoods, the Northside library engages the city with spaces that blur the line between research, socialization, knowledge-seeking and play.

New libraries require new thinking about how to be flexible, transparent, efficient and relevant in a digital era. The Columbus Metropolitan Library’s new Northside Branch meets this reality in dramatic fashion, with a cantilevered “reading loft” that engages High Street, shelters a public plaza at the main entrance, grants visitors an elevated view of the city, and shifts between library-specific functions and outside events as needed.

The interior centers on a “living room” that houses the library’s main collection. Washed with indirect daylight from high above, it is outfitted with comfortable reading zones, study nooks, a coffee bar and a fireplace. Additional spaces — the meeting rooms, children’s zone, teen reading area and quiet lounge — ramp up from the living room and culminate in the reading loft.

The design is also environmentally sensitive: the partially sunken living room will hold its temperature during seasonal extremes, the two-story volume to the south will self-shade the majority of the building, and the landscape will manage storm water runoff.