Cooper Library

In association with The Boudreaux Group and Margaret Sullivan Studio

McMillan Pazdan Smith was engaged as the library design consultant to a multi-firm team lead to renovate and re-envision the 240,000 SF main library and 4 existing branch libraries for the Richland Library System in South Carolina. The 10,000 SF Cooper Library, built in 1961, was the third library to be renovated as a part of a $59 million dollar capital improvement plan. MPS and the design team lead an in depth programming process that engaged the community, library staff, and the library leadership team to further develop the “Library as Studio” framework that was previously established with the client, and create a spatial program to support the activities and the goals for the diverse community.

The final design reimagined the library as a series of experiences for patrons of all ages. Visitors are greeted by a new retail type environment with bookstore-style display shelving, café tables, a variety of lounge seating for leisurely browsing, bench seating, and a laptop bar. Central to the design is the digital maker space and adjacent computer lounge. This space promotes multi-generational interaction and collaboration through the exploration of modern technologies including animation and 3D printing. Connected to this is the discovery book zone for children and a space for active and creative children’s programming. A house-shaped portal invites children into the early childhood zone, which opens up onto a new front porch addition that replicates the “house” motif as its exterior expression. Opposite the children’s zone is an area dedicated to quiet reading near the adult collection. Other program elements include a new entry vestibule and canopy, tutor rooms and a family restroom and lactation room.

Overall, the building embraces a color and material palette inspired by traditional southern homes in keeping with the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Blocks of color are used to delineate space in an open floor plan while creating visually interesting patterns on the walls and ceiling.New interior architecture and modern furnishing promote community learning, creating, and sharing freely throughout the library.