Library redesign wins award
When the Oak Forest Library reopens April 18, it will look a lot different than it did when it closed for renovations a year and a half ago.
In fact, its new design is so unique that the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects is presenting the library with an award for renovation and restoration.
"It was an easy call for our design awards jury," said Rusty Bienvenue, executive director for AIA Houston. "The architects added a substantial addition to the building that is contemporary and seamless while preserving the building's mid-century modern character."
Change in usage
Bienvenue said libraries are a building type undergoing a change in how they are used.
"These architects obviously understood this," he said.
"This is not just a beautiful building.
"It is also one that will add a great deal of value to the residents of the neighborhood."
The renovated facility, 1349 West 43rd St., which expanded from 8,000 to 12,000 square feet, will offer the community three distinctive reading rooms.
Early literacy computers
Children who visit the library when it reopens will have an area with two early literacy computers, eight public computers, and new and refurbished furniture.
The teen area will have a Wii system, eight public computers and new furniture. Adults will have access to 10 public computers, a living room space and new and refurbished furniture.
The facility will also provide wireless Internet access, where visitors will be able to bring their personal laptops or choose to check out one of the library's laptops to search the Web.
"There was a great need for all of these additions," said Wendy Heger, assistant director for Houston Public Library's Planning & Facilities Department.
Maintain look of library
"This library needed more space and the expansion allows us to create a dedicated area for teens, but at the same time we wanted to maintain the mid-century look of the library," said Heger. "This design accomplished this goal for us.
"Now the library is getting an award for it."
The award is one of only 18 awards to be presented out of 126 entries submitted to the American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter.
Roselyn Ford, who regularly attended the library prior to its closing, said she can't wait to experience the new features.
She can't wait
"It sounds like everything is up to date with the times now," said Ford. "I love the fact that the library system listened to our (the community) suggestion to preserve the original look of the library, so when we're able to start using the library again, it will still feel like home."
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