Hennepin County Library

The Hennepin County LibraryPlymouth design process began with a feasibility study concluding that a new building on the existing site would best serve the community. This resolution opened the door for rethinking the concept of this library entirely. It also coincided with Hennepin Countys commitment to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

The library is located in the City of Plymouths City Center zoning district, which will eventually establish a pedestrian friendly downtown environment with a mix of civic, cultural, retail, entertainment, and recreational uses. The existing fabric consists of big-box and mid-sized facilities.

The library forms a strong street edge on the west. The large volume public space is scaled to its retail neighbors but is humanized by smaller elements of the building. The views into the library from the street and out of the interior to the landscape, further tie the building to its surroundings.

An emphasis on public service, comfort and access to technology drove the project. The facility encourages self-service which in turn allows the staff to assist efficiently from a combined circulation and information desk. This new service model allows staff resources to be focused on serving those who need direct interaction with a librarian.

The interior space was developed as a series of scenes within a landscape. Color, finishes and furniture define individual program areas to allow patrons to quickly survey the interior and determine where they want to go.

A long-span structural system together with access flooring and demountable partitions provides nearly complete flexibility and uninterrupted space and site lines. Thus the interior is capable of adapting easily to program changes.

Sustainable features and library function are mutually beneficial. The mechanical and electrical systems are integrated to minimize visual clutter, optimize energy efficiency, and ensure good air quality. Design strategies that promote energy savings also support the library program and service delivery. The ample diffused daylight reduces reliance on artificial lighting and creates a productive environment for customers and staff alike. Space below the access flooring supplies tempered air, provides a changeable means for routing electrical and data cabling and houses the conveyor system for the materials handling room. With geothermal heating and cooling the building was modeled to require 40 less energy than a comparable baseline in our climate. The green roof, parking lot bio-filtration area, and storm water retention pond ensure that storm water stays on-site and does not pollute nearby natural waterways. High recycled content materials were selected and 95 percent of construction and demolition waste was recycled.


Project Type


15700 36th Avenue North, Plymouth, 55446,