Amy Sanders Library
The Central Arkansas Library System and the City of Sherwood completed construction of the new Amy Sanders Library in early 2018. The new building has over 14,000 square feet of space on a heavily wooded 15 acre parcel. The design team along with the city decided to take the approach of setting the building within the existing trees and steep terrain to enhance the uniqueness of the site, and to bring the beauty of the outside in.
As a city municipality Sherwood formed a selection committee for the new library site. There was approximately 10 sites that a committee made up of local residents, city council members, library staff and the architectural design team evaluated. These were ranked based upon an agreed to matrix that was applied to every site and over the course of several weeks and committee meetings, a short list of three sites was presented to the city council. From this short list one site was selected and purchased by the city and we began work nestling the 14,500 S.F. building program on it. The site is a heavily wooded 15 acre parcel with a steep slope falling off from the street. The design team along with the city decided to take the approach of setting the building within the existing trees and steep terrain rather than a more typical clear the trees and level the ground approach. As a visitor approaches the building, it immediately becomes obvious that this is a unique place in that it is as if one is driving through a forest that a building has been carefully placed in. We took advantage of the natural topography to string the public functions along a ridge facilitating easy entry from parking into the building without stairs or ramps. We than capitalized on the steep terrain at the rear by projecting the reading room out into the woods elevated on columns at mid tree level which gives the impression that one is in a treehouse. Further enhancing this floating feeling we suspended the individual and group breakout rooms off of the reading room, these rooms also perform a shading function from the west sun into the reading room. The ceilings of the reading room, teen’s area and children’s element have exposed structure from which a grid of ceiling tile hangs creating clouds concealing the mechanical ducts as well as providing acoustical control . Lighting is suspended between the ceiling clouds.
The public meeting room is accessed via the main lobby and can operate autonomous from the library allowing it to be used during off hours. The meeting room occupants can also access the public toilets as well as an exterior terrace after hours.
This facility is seen as providing civic function for the community so in addition to a public meeting room a small exterior amphitheater that takes advantage of the natural site slope is planned for a future phase adjacent to the building. Hiking paths through the wooded site have been incorporated into the site design.
View looking east along the north wall of the main reading room, the reading balcony can be seen on the left.
View from the circulation desk to the main reading room. The edge of the children’s reading room is on the right.
View from the children’s area looking west towards the resource center. The main reading room and the edge of the woods are visible on the outside. The exterior reading balcony can be seen at the mid tree level beyond.
View looking to the west to the main reading room. The reading room balcony is visible on the right. Note the levitation of the building and the slope of the site places the reading room at mid-tree level.
View of the main entry of the Amy Sanders Library. The community room can be seen to the left of the entry and the main reading room is visible beyond. The stone is in an ashlar pattern of Indiana lime stone blocks. This view addresses the public street and the northern facing glass enclosed reading rooms are not visible and are only revealed to the patron upon entering the library.
View from the terrace outside of the community room looking northeast toward the west elevation of the main reading room. The projecting individual and group study rooms serve as sun screens to the reading room, blocking the harsh west sun.
View of the northwest elevation showing the projecting individual and small group study rooms and the main reading room balcony. The community room is visible on the upper right. The stair accesses the walking trails through the woods from the upper terrace.