Cincinnati Public Library

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Project Brief: A branch library for Cincinnati's Clifton Gaslight neighborhood.
Program: Library, including stacks, study areas, children's area, and staff rooms; public meeting rooms; cafe.
Concept: Two geometries separate outward-facing public spaces and the inward-oriented library while capturing sun and wind for passive heating and cooling.

An organic form separates community and library functions while responding to sun, wind, and site.

This branch library, located in the eclectic Clifton Gaslight neighborhood, one of Cincinnati's older suburbs, is deeply contextual — if not in the traditional aesthetic sense. It responds to the reality of a corner site and to the conditions of the natural fabric of which it is a part.

A double radius divides the building by programmatic function: public functions embrace the corner; library functions open to the treed hillside to the north. A large ramp welcomes the community and addresses an existing city bus turnaruond. The lines between interior and exterior are blurred: green-screened bearing walls seem to grow from the site itself, framing views and allowing varying degrees of porosity between indoors and out.

The organic form also responds to sun and wind. Clerestories and light shelves provide extensive daylighting; southern glazing and thermal mass captures the sun's heat in the winter, while overhangs and deciduous trees shade it in the summer. The building can open for passive ventilation in the spring and fall, and the structure is bearmed into the earth for added insulation and protection from the winter winds. The sloping roofs collect rainwater for graywater uses and site irrigation.

The building is intended to be sensuous and timeless, its massive stone walls responding to human touch and sunlight, its arched interiors warm and dynamic, its double-height spaces bathed in light and views; its nooks and crannies inviting for study and leisure.

copyright © 2013 by carl s. sterner, unless otherwise noted. more...