Design

Find your place.

The public library is the heart of the community, connecting thought, information and contemporary library services for all Omaha residents. The design for the potential new central public library would house the blended services of Omaha Public Library (OPL) and Do Space, providing more opportunities for individuals and groups to learn and engage. Thoughtfully designed with purpose, it would respond to Omaha’s needs and wants for its central library. It would offer places for people to read, learn, research, browse books, connect with technology and connect with each other.  

Creating an inspiring library design and a welcoming space for all at the corner of 72nd and Dodge has been informed by the 2017 Omaha Public Library Facilities Master Plan; insightful feedback from the OPL and Do Space staff, and all of the partnering entities; valuable public input; library trends and best practices; and visits at a selection of the world’s best libraries.

Watch our schematic design presentation. 

On Monday, June 6, the partners on the potential central public library project hosted a community share out event to present on project process and progress, including how community and staff input has informed library spaces. The presentation included new exterior and interior building renderings, a walk-through of floorplans and a discussion of next steps for the project. 

Learn more about the intentional details and amenities from the architects and designers on this project.

This project is in its early stages and there is still much work to be done. Cost assessments, further input from stakeholders and other design details will all be taken into consideration as the project moves forward.

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Margaret Sullivan Studios

The points of entry located on the east and west sides of the building would rise to allow the users to see a glimpse of the building’s interior as a reference of the lifted edge of a page to find your place.

The building design would establish a system of modular elements that come together in an iconic form. The individual modules represent the individuals and organizations of our great city and demonstrate the strength and beauty that we can display when we come together as a community.   

This building form would work to incorporate the dynamic energy of the site and, in a way, represents the diversity and interconnected nature of our community. The building form would establish a posture that embraces users and will offer a respite for body and mind. 

While dynamic stacks of glass blocks reflect the energy of the passing traffic, they also would create an element that would help to buffer this energy from the south-facing city garden that the building folds itself around.

Invitation and Orientation:

Primary entrances at the east and west corners of the library would lift to welcome users to find their place.

An open floor plan could feature browsable collections, a variety of technology, an interactive café, cultural commons, event spaces, gallery space and multiple meeting rooms. Areas would be created for exhibiting; presenting; gathering; creating; and welcoming community partners, social services and career support into the space. High ceilings and generous floor openings along the north and south would help showcase the variety of activities on upper and lower floors. The internal transparency of the architecture would invite the user to find their place.

Design:

Designed to be a destination that is welcoming and reflective of the Omaha community, the library would be organized to be open, flexible and supportive of a variety of activities.

A centrally located feature stair would guide users upwards while simultaneously providing a beacon to all floors, with sweeping views of adjacent spaces. Open floor plans would encourage intuitive wayfinding and allow for future flexibility.

A heavily landscaped courtyard on the south side of the library could be seen from multiple areas. The exterior façade would be comprised of high-performance materials that balance opaque and transparent glazing. The transparent glass would create evenly dispersed natural light while efficiently keeping interior comfort a priority.

The building envelope would wrap the three floor plates to give focus to library functions within, while breaking on the south façade to open up to the courtyard and seamlessly connect interior to exterior.

Sustainable, durable and timeless materials could include warm woods and soft neutrals. Acoustic wood ceilings, glass walls and subtly curved railings would project openness and comfort. Natural daylight would be included in all spaces.

Collections Hub:

The new library design would provide the opportunity for more significant collections of books and materials through a Collections Hub approach. Sometimes called an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), the Collections Hub at the potential new central library would be a new, innovative storage system that would serve every OPL branch. The Collections Hub would allow thoughtful curation of materials across the system, creating more spaces for people and activities in all branches.

One of the Collections Hub’s advantages is the quick retrieval of materials stored within, which means requested items can be delivered swiftly to library users at all locations. In addition, for library users who enjoy browsing, the Collections Hub would enable the creation of curated collections and dynamic displays to reflect the community’s unique needs and interests across all branches. This best-practice approach for creating flexible spaces and greater access to robust collections of materials through the Collections Hub would ensure OPL meets the community’s needs today and in the future.

Images of the ASRS system at the Hunt Library in Raleigh, N.C.

First floor:

The first floor of the library would celebrate all ages, acting as an intergenerational, collaborative and multi-purpose cultural commons. Program highlights would include collection displays for all ages, interspersed with a variety of technology. A vibrant café, early childhood play space, 300-seat community event space, array of meeting/conference space, lounge furniture and reader tables could be found throughout the floor.

Click floorplan to view larger

Click floorplan to view larger

Mezzanine:

A mezzanine tucked between the first and second floor would feature a variety of open and private meeting rooms and lounge areas. Acting as a quiet and cozy floor nestled within the activated surrounds, a seated counter would sit along the floor edge, allowing users to look over the first-floor activities. This vantage point would also showcase views towards bustling Dodge Street to the north and towards quiet courtyard gardens to the south.

Second floor:

The second floor would house the children’s department, young adults’ and Do Space makerspace.

The children’s department could feature a variety of collection displays, a 100-seat interactive storytime area, fixed computers for children’s educational and recreational use, family space, stroller parking, a variety of seating for all ages, collaborative space and a large activity/littles lab room for arts and crafts, digital exploration and several other programs.

Multiple makerspace programs and equipment could be featured in Do Space, inviting the user to experiment and learn about the latest technologies. A centrally located 3D lab, visible through glass, would be designed to house 3D printers, laser cutters and other 3D tech equipment. Surrounding spaces may include a 24-seat tech training room, audio & visual labs, listening & film viewing rooms and a podcast studio, offering a variety of opportunities to learn, create, explore and invent. In adjacent open areas, users would find arts and crafts stations and a variety of technology.

Situated along the north railing, a countertop with tech support would wrap to the teen area, inviting users to sit down, plug in and engage. Young adults could find comfortable lounge furniture, collaborative high-top tables, collections, computer tables and group study/tutoring rooms. Located at the top of the feature stair, teens would enjoy panoramic views — both inside and out — that add to the spatial dynamics.

Click floorplan to view larger

Click floorplan to view larger

Third floor:

The third floor would feature historical archives, genealogy spaces and a quiet reading room. A variety of soft seating, research and reader tables, technology and collections would be housed on this floor, and meeting rooms would be distributed throughout.

Display cases would showcase Nebraska history and the library’s extensive archive collection. A centrally located fireplace in the quiet reading space with views that look outdoors to the south, east and north would encourage readers to relax and enjoy the more contemplative and cozy third floor.

Staff space:

Staff space would be distributed on all floors to best serve users. The lower-level staff space features a book drop-off and pick-up drive-through window for users. It would also house the ground level of the Collections Hub, which would be managed by staff on this floor.

Click floorplan to view larger

Click floorplan to view larger

Parking:

The new central public library would include parking spaces in an attached, multi-level parking garage on the southwest side of the new structure. Vehicles would be able to enter from the eastbound lanes of Dodge Street and access the upper level of the garage. There would also be an accessible drop-off point at the west entry of the building.

The westbound lanes of Dodge could enter at the 74th Street signal and then turn on Douglas Street to access the south side of the garage. From Douglas, there would also be access to a book drop-off and pick-up point on the west side of the building.

From 72nd Street northbound and southbound, vehicles could enter at the Farnam Street signal, then turn on 73rd to access the garage.

Let's do this together.

Project partners are committed to laying the groundwork for a transparent and collaborative potential project. Right now, additional research and planning are needed before decisions can be made. Public and stakeholder input are essential to this project. To date, this project has been built on previously gathered input and the work of the 2017 Omaha Public Library Facilities Master Plan. Stakeholders — including library staff, library users, and the general public — will all have multiple opportunities for ongoing involvement.

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