From A Non-Place To A Public Library

From A Non-Place To A Public Library

Every day we are confronted with the left-overs of our overly designed, but not always functional, corporate world. If you’re turning your eyes on the idea of reading another article against the big bad corporate guys, maybe at the end of these lines you’ll understand why, in cases like this one, it’s really hard not to be political. But let’s get to the point: what we are speaking about here, are the non-places built, and often abandoned soon after, by various corporations and short-sighted impresarios. Naturally, this scenario is usually staged in the USA, even though the rest of the world isn’t quite immune to the phenomenon.

Fortunately, there are a few examples that show how these abandoned buildings, ghosts of our consumerist culture, can be given a completely new life. The latest project is a public library in McAllen, Texas, built in an ex-Walmart store. The forgotten warehouse, one of the 130 empty former Walmart stores available throughout United States, has been transformed by the architectural firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, an office specialized in designing libraries, in a beautiful public space.

The architects have maintained the original outer shell, dividing the internal zones in a glass-enclosed space and adding rows and rows of bookshelves. The McAllen Public Library is claimed to be the largest single-story library in the country, since it’s two football fields large. To confirm the project’s excellence, McAllen Public Library has been awarded the 2012 Library Interior Design Competition prize. Even though design prizes don’t always guarantee the excellence of a project, in this case, the conversion from a vast warehouse to a perfectly functioning library was rightly awarded. But what is even more important than posh design judges’ opinion, is the feeling of local public, who has clearly expressed its preferences with new user registration rise in 23% within the first month of library’s opening.

Rujana Rebernjak