Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library

Located in Southern Colorado, Pueblo is sited at the foot of the Wet Mountains where the Great Plains meet the Rockies. Pueblo is both a geographical and cultural crossroads.

The new library is a sculptural abstraction of, and a careful response to, this natural and cultural landscape. The new 109,000-sf library incorporates the existing site and a portion of the existing library as well as spanning across Bates Lane to the south. The new facility rises five stories, taking full advantage of the views over the Arkansas Valley and historic Pueblo to the east, as well as distant mountain views such as Pikes Peak to the north, the Wet Mountains to the west and Greenhorn and the Spanish peaks to the south. A south-facing courtyard greets patrons at the library entry. The new courtyard is planted with fruit trees and is bordered by a reflective pool referencing Pueblo’s agrarian roots and relationships to water. The courtyard is overlooked by a lobby with glass elevators that extend past the full height of the building becoming a light beacon at night. Portions of the building are firmly grounded and expressed as a warm tone cast-in-place concrete analogous to surrounding topography with the Sky Wing wedge clad in bronze referencing ancient printing blocks. Careful study was done regarding the buildings various windows, trellises and sun louvers to control sunlight, minimize energy use and direct views.

Entering the library one is presented with commanding views through a 56’ tall glazed lobby wall. The main floor contains book check in / check out, the children’s library and a coffee/ juice bar that opens to the main lobby and entry courtyard. The children’s library defines the north edge of the entry courtyard with a glazed wall greeting visitors with books and children’s activity while passing through the courtyard to the main entry.

Taking advantage of an adjacent lot to the south, the creative solution to span over the street provided the contiguous floor area to keep all of the primary collections on one floor. The new bridge over the street became the Sky Wing, a glazed, bronze-clad wedge that contains primary reading areas and popular book stacks, extends over the street and is anchored by buff concrete walls that buttress both sides of the street. Four 100-foot trusses at the upper executive office level with the stacks and reading rooms suspended over Bates Lane below carry the Sky Wing. This was done to keep the public stacks and reading areas as transparent as possible taking full advantage of views to historic Pueblo to the east and the mountains to the west.

The floor plan for the building became what was referred to as the propeller plan with the major book collections radiating out from a central core. The center of the propeller is the central control point for the libraries circulation and services such as, check in, check out, information desk, etc. The major book collections, reading rooms and computer stations radiate out from this core.

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