Gensler– A Renown global architecture firm that envisions promoting equity, resilience, and well-being for everyone. Sustainable measures of the firm are over 50 locations across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and the United States of America.
The AIA 2020 in unbuilt design award-winning Frisco Public Library in the City of Frisco, Texas, is one of the finest examples of sustainable design by Gensler. Let’s explore the inspiring design approach of the Frisco Public Library.
Story of the Frisco Public Library
Every architectural building has a story to tell and create over its whole life span. Gensler’s Frisco Public Library has an inspiring story to tell – A story of Blackland Prairie.
Blackland Prairie – A grassland ecoregion was stretched over 300 miles from the red river. It was slowly consumed by agricultural practice and urban agglomeration. Nowadays, it is left with only an estimated 0.1% of the original prairie vegetation. Brian Nicodemus and Gensler took inspiration from Blackland Prairie’s ecological history and built the concept of adaptive reuse for the new Frisco Public Library.
The renovated space was initially a factory established by Beal Aerospace in 1997 to manufacture rockets and chicken nuggets as well as serving Frisco Discovery Center, Sci-tech discovery center, community theater, and the National Videogame Museum and the Museum of the American Railroads. Now the structure is turning into a public library for the whole community of the City of Frisco. The journey from the rockets to adaptive reuse of the structure for community and active learning is remarkable.
Gensler and Nicodemus’ library design has taken care to reflect the local climate and culture of the city. The built-up area of 158,000 sq ft is the triple area of the existing public library. As the project is the case of adaptive reuse, it was quite challenging for Gensler. The original structure of the space has 40ft high ceilings and reinforced concrete floor slabs which are suitable for accommodating the manufacturing of rockets and vehicles as well as to hold the weight of books but the large open space was restricted to provide a large opening for windows for natural ventilation and daylighting. Architects punch openings into the concrete panels and somewhere replace concrete walls with steel.
Another Challenge was to take into consideration the climatic impact on the structure. Frisco’s climate is warm and humid throughout the year. Winter’s mild whereas summers are hot with more than 40°C. Considering high temperature and radiation west, the west elevation is clad with a louvre skin system moreover, it controls glare and allows indirect natural light. The east side elevation is protected with passive and automated shading systems. The clerestory windows provide ample amount of lighting into the building for reading and other activities to reduce the energy load of the building.
Reflection of local culture
“At Gensler, we feel strongly that our architecture needs to be reflective of the local culture and the local climate. Instead of looking at our physical context, we wanted to look more temporally looking back into the past at the ecological history of the site,” – Gensler.
The Frisco Public Library is part of the master plan of the city. To connect the building with the whole city, the design allows two entries, one as a ceremonial arrival connected with the Frisco square in the north and the other one in the west for more guests’ entrance. Inspired by Blackland Prairie history, the design adopted the dogtrot style as the local homes were developed across the north of Texas in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A breezeway connects the renovated library space with a new community space made from wood veneer, which looks like a log cabin. The louvre panels’ angles reflect the undulating wave of prairie grass in the wind.
The landscape design by Studio Outside creates mini lakes throughout the landscape design to give beautiful insight into micro depression in the topography. The interactive nature walks beside the building so that visitors can learn more about the site’s ecological history and excellent space for outdoor learning. The open mezzanine terrace is designed for reading while the programmable plaza is to host cultural activities, public markets, and many more interactive activities.
The Gensler’s new Frisco Public Library is not just a library it is a space that connects, reimagines, cultivates, and transforms communities. It is a perfect example that a library is not just for reading and research, it can also be a part of social sustainability while serving environmental sustainability. It is an inspiration for future library design. So, are you ready to design a library as a fun and learning space and to approach sustainability in your next project?
“We are revisiting the paradigm of what a library can be – so all bets are off.” – Gensler .
- Sherman, R. (2020). With Cutting-Edge Design and Technology, Architects Reimagine the Frisco Public Library as a True Destination. [online] PaperCity Magazine. Available at:https://www.papercitymag.com/home-design/architecture/frisco-public-library-gensler-design-covid-pandemic/.
- StudioOutside. (n.d.). Frisco Public Library. [online] Available at: https://www.studiooutside.us/frisco-public-library [Accessed 6 Aug. 2022].
- The Architect’s Newspaper. (2021). Gensler’s Frisco Public Library offers a reverent nod to a vanishing prairie landscape. [online] Available at: https://www.archpaper.com/2021/06/gensler-frisco-public-library-offers-reverent-nod-to-vanishing-prairie-landscape/ [Accessed 6 Aug. 2022].