Designed by Snøhetta in collaboration with Clark Nexsen, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s new Main Library is a 115,000-sf building that will go beyond being just a library to serve as a public commons.
The technologically-advanced, five-story library’s design draws on the concept of the ridgeline literally and figuratively as it generates views in a variety of directions and acts as a convergence point for community and culture. A glowing, translucent prow cantilevers out over the sidewalk, opening the building up to the street.
At street level, the facade is glazed in a transparent band of glass that wraps the tapered corner to allow views deep into the library, putting the activity within on display. The main entry is framed by a copper soffit and has the potential to be connected to the historic McGlohon Theatre and Duke Energy Theater next door to form a new civic space. The sloped front facade is clad in ceramic panels and resembles a patterned textile to modulate light conditions within.
Inside the building a large atrium opens up to the top floor for easy wayfinding. A spiraling wooden stair leads up to the four floors above with each level offering unique views of the surrounding city via large windows and outdoor terrace spaces.
Each level is designed with a specific thematic focus:
Lower Level: houses a pre-function and event space
Level 1: includes the two main entrances as well as a café entrance, lobby, café, theater area, reading zones, and self-service checkpoints.
Level 2: features the welcome and orientation center for new and recent Mecklenburg residents, with a job training center and counseling services space and the core technology and makerspace offerings, including a technology center, computer lab, digital visualization lab, and recording studios.
Level 3: houses the bulk of the collections and offers soft seating for reading and research along with staff space.
Level 4: showcases the revamped Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, which features the library’s special collections and a theater and staff space.
Level 5: houses the destination reading room, a writer’s studio and porch, and an outdoor terrace which serves as a reading, programming and meeting space, along with administrative offices.
The library is slated to break ground in early 2021 and complete and re-open in 2024.