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An abandoned T.J. Maxx is transformed into a new public library in Cincinnati

Libraries

An abandoned T.J. Maxx is transformed into a new public library in Cincinnati

The store’s large floor plate has been used to create distinct zones for different age groups and activities.


By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor | March 26, 2023
Abandoned T.J. Maxx converted into Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, GBBN architects
Photo: Ryan Kurtz, courtesy GBBN

What was once an abandoned T.J. Maxx store in a shopping center is now a vibrant, inviting public library. The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library (CHPL) has transformed the ghost store into the new Deer Park Library, designed by GBBN.

The formerly drab exterior now has a striking blue color and aluminum tubes on the facade, making the library clearly visible from the street. Large new windows in the facade and roof bring daylight into the once-dark retail store, while curved interior walls break up the space.

Five times larger than its previous space, the new 25,000-sf Deer Park Library has been organized around a central zone called The Marketplace. This open, flexible area has been designed to encourage mingling, lounging, and discovery. From the Marketplace, visitors can view all the library’s offerings, including computer workstations and study pods.

Abandoned TJ Maxx converted into Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, GBBN architects
Photo: Ryan Kurtz, courtesy GBBN

GBBN used the store’s large floor plate to create distinct zones for different age groups and activities. The zones have been denoted with mobile furniture and acoustically private yet transparent study pods, and include quiet spaces, a community meeting room, and space for messy creativity. The flexible space can be reconfigured and allows different activities to happen at the same time.

The kid zone invites children to spend time there with bright pops of color and a mix of soft and hard furniture. Custom-designed acoustic ceiling baffles both provide visual interest and dampen sound.

“The community let us know we needed a modern, expanded library, a place to connect, create, and collaborate, and we are truly pleased with how this renovation and expansion turned out,” Diane Cunningham Redden, CHPL board of trustees president, said in a statement.

One sign of the project’s success: The library had to invest in an additional computer terminal to handle the volume of checkouts.

On the Building Team:
Client: Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library 
Architecture and design: GBBN
Civil engineer: Bayer Becker
Structural engineer: Schaefer
MEP engineer: Motz Engineering
Technology: BCL Enterprise
Contractor: Perkins/Carmack

Abandoned TJ Maxx converted into Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, GBBN architects
Photo: Ryan Kurtz, courtesy GBBN
Abandoned TJ Maxx converted into Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, GBBN architects
Photo: Ryan Kurtz, courtesy GBBN
Abandoned TJ Maxx converted into Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, GBBN architects
Photo: Ryan Kurtz, courtesy GBBN

 

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