The vision behind the North Boulder library’s multidimensional design

With design basically set, construction on the 11,000-square-foot building begins next year with a target to open by 2022

By Paul Hagey Jul 18 2019

Editor’s note: Access BLDRfly’s first podcast, and related story, below. We interview the principals of WORKac, the New York City-based architecture firm that designed Boulder’s soon-to-be-built North Boulder library. We respect your time, which is why this podcast is short, under 10 minutes, like the others we will do. Enjoy.

Far North Boulder, the city’s rapidly evolving rural outpost, has moved one step closer to getting its first civic building: a multidimensional, 11,000-square-foot Boulder Public Library branch that will serve as a neighborhood community hub.

The library, which the city has discussed building for nearly three decades, will live on a slice of land on the north bank of Four Mile Canyon Creek just east of Broadway Ave., about a quarter mile north of Wonderland Lake and a half mile south of Broadway’s intersection with 36.

North Boulder library location.

Well, the library’s finally happening! The community, city and Boulder Public Library has a design. Funded by a community culture and safety tax, the library project has approximately $8.5 million in dedicated funds now, about $1.5 million short of the anticipated $10 million cost, according to Antonia Gaona, the city’s North Boulder Library project coordinator.

The project will break ground in late 2020 or early 2021. And city officials expect it to open by 2022.

The library will help feed Boulder’s ravenous library appetite, The Boulder Public Library system has 33.5 percent more cardholders (approximately 150,000) than residents (just over 100,000). That’s a higher proportion than any area library system, according to the 2018 Boulder Public Library Master Plan.

If design plays a role in library satiation, the North Boulder library may fill us up. Constituents wanted an iconic building design and we got one from selected architect New York City-based WORKac.

The Design

The shapeshifting design of the 11,000-square-foot space transforms as you move around the building, says Amale Androas, a principal at WORKac.

The two-story, triangular design not only has Flatiron views but meets the community’s goals of a sustainable design: it will consume a net-zero amount of energy. Three large chimneys will condition the air, solar panels will add power and other energy-efficient features.

The North Boulder library’s multidimensional design includes a net-zero energy rating, solar panels and south-facing windows with Flatiron views. See more design details here. Source; WORKac.

Among the design’s diverse aspects include a food-focused makerspace, with indoor and outdoor parts, where community members will attend cooking classes, canning workshops and more. Kids will have an indoor playscape, off of the children’s section of the library, and an adjacent outdoor playground.

More design detail. Source: WORKac.

The design also features a mini greenhouse, a barbecue terrace and a mini courtyard-like area within the building.

Diverse access

Patrons have access to the diverse space through the Four Mile Canyon Creek trail from Broadway and car parking on its east side.

Boulder Public Library branches. Source: City of Boulder.

The future building’s adjacent proximity to the city’s largest — by far — mobile home community Boulder Meadows also adds a valuable component, providing easy access for some of the city’s lower-income residents. (The city has four designated mobile home areas: Boulder Meadows has over 540 homes; Vista Village, near Valmont Bike Park, has over 300 homes; Orchard Grove has over 210 homes; and Mapleton has over 130 homes).

In addition to the main public library, Boulder has three branch libraries: George Reynolds in South Boulder, Meadows in southeast Boulder, and the tiny NoBo Corner Library in North Boulder. There’s also the Carnegie library focused on local history downtown.

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Paul Hagey

Paul Hagey is BLDRfly’s founder and editor. When not wrangling video, audio and words in the name of story, he’s riding his mountain bike, trail running and hanging with his awesome wife Jen and their young daughter.