Salt Lake City Main Public Library

Salt Lake City, Utah, 2003

The Salt Lake City Main Public Library occupies a city block across from city hall. The building consists of a five story, triangular-shaped structure housing the stacks and readers’ facilities, an adjacent rectangular administration wing, and a glass-enclosed “urban room,” all contained by a crescent-shaped wall. The wall descends toward the piazza, providing a sweeping external staircase that leads visitors from the piazza to a rooftop garden overlooking the surrounding Wasatch Mountains. The urban room opens into the piazza, which is lined within the wall with shops, restaurants, meeting rooms and an auditorium. Within the crescent, reading galleries occupy the four levels above the retail areas, connected by bridges to the main library block. The children’s library, on the lowest level, spills outdoors into an amphitheater and a children’s garden in the piazza. Interior story rooms are clustered around a curved spine, and mediate the zone between internal library spaces and vibrant exterior rooms. A south facing, five-story double-glazed ‘lens’ opens the entire library towards the mountain view while providing shade or trapping the sun’s heat, as appropriate to each season. Passive solar and natural ventilation work together to modulate the air. Raised floors throughout the building, combined with no walls in the main book areas, allow the library to easily adapt to future changes in technology and delivery of services.

Project Type: Library

Client: Salt Lake City Library

Cost: $78 million

Size: 225000

Collaborators

Associate Architects - VCBO Architecture