Library Renovation Wins Architecture Award

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​Hacker Architects' innovative design for Salem Public Library's renovation project won Salem People's Choice Award and Colleagues' Choice Award.

The awards were given November 12 by the American Institute of Architecture Oregon's Salem Section. These awards aim to educate and inspire our fellow citizens by showcasing architecture, interiors and landscape architecture projects.

"Hacker Architects refined input from the community into a guiding vision and set of values that is reflected in every aspect of the design," said Salem Librarian Sarah Strahl.

The library upgrade, which voters approved in 2017, is part of City goals to provide a safe, welcoming and livable community. The goals of the upgrade are to:

  • make the library safer in an earthquake
  • improve accessibility within and around the exterior of the building
  • make other improvements to renew the library

The changes are designed to ensure the library will continue to be a resource for the Salem community for decades to come.

Strengthening the building against earthquake damage required major construction on the 1972 library building, both inside and out. So it also presented an opportunity to replace worn finishes and arrange library services in ways that better suit the needs of both visitors and staff. Designers reached out to both groups. Three community open houses were held as part of the nearly year-long design process in 2019, where residents were able to share what they treasure about the library building and what needed to be improved, gather input on design ideas, and share preliminary designs.

Residents told us they wanted:

  • to honor the existing building
  • more natural daylight
  • computers available throughout the library
  • to connect children and teen spaces
  • a safer book return area
  • more meeting and private study/work areas
  • more visibility of spaces throughout the library

Hacker and their design-build partner, general contractor Howard S. Wright,  were challenged to finish the project within budget, while finding structural seismic solutions that don't impact the library space.

"Each aspect of the design is filtered through a practical lense of how each choice can contributed to improved seismic and life safety, from shelving and furniture to circulation, visibility, and new points of entry," Hacker wrote in notes about the project.

The Salem Public Library Foundation continues to play a vital role in the project by providing funds for enhancements that otherwise couldn't have been done within the available budget.

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