To Inspire Community, Design a Library That's Also a Beacon

Replacing a building destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the Lakeshore Library branch is flexible, innovative, and strikingly modern with its welcoming and playful profile.


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.”

They (STBA) did something that was truly amazing. They brought us a beautiful, incredible looking building and they brought it in on budget.

Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Jefferson Parish Councilwoman, District 5

Press & Awards

  • AIA Louisiana Merit Award, 2011

  • AIA New Orleans Members' Choice Award, 2013

  • Best New Architecture, New Orleans Magazine, 2016.

See portfolio entry