Courtesy: Lara Swimmer

An abandoned Wal-Mart warehouse is transformed into the largest public library in the country.

So this is what the future was supposed to have looked like. What’s intriguing about the McAllen Public Library in Texas is how it inadvertently resembles the real-world application of Cedric Price’s blank, non-aesthetic superstructures in which courts or leisurely spaces could be aggregated or even reconfigured at any time. That’s (partly) what Minneapolis-based architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. have done with their massive project in McAllen, converting an abandoned Wal-Mart warehouse into the largest public library in the country.

At 124,500 square feet, the equivalent span of 2 1/2 football fields, the library consists of a field of book pavilions anchored by central service clusters, where bathrooms, check-out counters, and computers are collected in brightly colored kiosks and enclaves. Large marquees indicating book categories are suspended from the ceiling, nestled among a series of dish-like lighting fixtures. Cutesy graphics sit comfortably beside more blatant architectonic details, from the lasercut perforated feature walls and frosted, patterned glazing. Apparently, the design is a hit, with new user registration up 23 percent in the first month of operation alone.

Photo by Lara Swimmer
Photo by Lara Swimmer
Photo by Lara Swimmer
Photo by Lara Swimmer
Photo by Lara Swimmer

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map of future climate risks in the U.S.
    Maps

    America After Climate Change, Mapped

    With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

  2. Life

    The Death and Life of the 13-Month Calendar

    Favored by leaders in transportation and logistics, the International Fixed Calendar was a favorite of Kodak founder George Eastman, whose company used it until 1989.

  3. photo: a commuter looks at a small map of the London Tube in 2009
    Maps

    Help! The London Tube Map Is Out of Control.

    It’s never been easy to design a map of the city’s underground transit network. But soon, critics say, legibility concerns will demand a new look.

  4. photo: A vacant home in Oakland that is about to demolished for an apartment complex.
    Equity

    Fix California’s Housing Crisis, Activists Say. But Which One?

    As a controversy over vacancy in the Bay Area and Los Angeles reveals, advocates disagree about what kind of housing should be built, and where.

  5. photo: A daycare provider reads to students in New York City.
    Life

    How Universal Pre-K Drives Up Families’ Infant-Care Costs

    An unintended consequence of free school programs for three- and four-year-olds is a reduction in the supply of affordable child care for kids younger than two.

×