To Inspire Community, Design a Library That's Also a Beacon
When the Lakeshore branch of the Jefferson Parish Library was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, taking on a foot of water and battered by the storm’s winds, a complete replacement of the facility was needed.
Located in a residential neighborhood near historic Bucktown, the branch had the potential to re-establish itself as a center for community activity. The building was well positioned to serve the neighborhood youth, provide access to computers and digital media, and to offer a venue for programming and meetings.
In planning talks, the library director identified three major needs: a meaningful integration of modern technology, three distinct areas for adults, teens, and children, and a meeting space with a dedicated entrance (to allow after-hours access).
By designing an inviting, modern, and open space, STBA saw an opportunity to create a building that served as a beacon, welcoming the community in to enjoy the library’s amenities and offerings.
STBA took the client’s desire to modernize the library to heart. Whereas the existing building was a more traditional and compartmentalized building with a sloping, multi-gabled roof, STBA's design offered a light-filled, playful geometric form of glass and metal.
The 7,700-square-foot building was designed for maximum programmatic flexibility, offering an open concept with mobile furniture and fixtures to provide for future adaptation.
Facing north (fronting the well-traveled West Esplanade Avenue), the library presents itself with three striking volumes of glass—representing its three main areas: children, teen, and adult. During the day, natural daylight fills the space. At night, the building glows, lantern-like, from within, acting as a beacon to the community.
A playful, green-painted structure cuts through the building, spanning from the west entrance to a cozy reading cove. In the children’s section, a large, colorful fabric art piece features photos of local wildlife.
Every care was taken to respect the building’s residential context. The south section of the building, which contains administration, back-of-house functions, and storage, is clad in brick and scaled in height to modulate the effect of the taller sections of the building.
The Lakeshore Library has fast become a favorite in its community, fulfilling its vision of becoming a truly welcoming, neighborhood gathering space. Offering digital media, technological resources, and innovative programming, it serves as an exemplar for what a 21st century community library can be.
John Klingman from New Orleans Magazine selected the building for his annual Best New Architecture survey, praising the “jewelbox of a building” and its “wonderful interior.”
Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Jefferson Parish Councilwoman, District 5
They (STBA) did something that was truly amazing. They brought us a beautiful, incredible looking building and they brought it in on budget.
Press & Awards
AIA Louisiana Merit Award, 2011
AIA New Orleans Members' Choice Award, 2013
Best New Architecture, New Orleans Magazine, 2016.