Designer Forum: Orland Park library renovation takes a holistic approach to enhance community vision - July 2021
By Lisa Schmidt and Divya Jain
The Orland Park Public Library in Orland Park, Illinois set out to renew its story as a community-driven resource with the reimagining of its 93,000-square-foot, award-winning library. Named by the Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects as one of the 200 Great Places in Illinois, the library’s board of trustees and staff understood the importance of staying vibrant for patrons. The guiding design principles focused on community inclusivity, wellness through biophilic concepts, engaged learning environments and a diverse, multigenerational fit and flow between indoors and outdoors.
ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY
When most people think “library,” they think books. While that is certainly true, in addition to connecting people to information, libraries connect people to people. Libraries are anchor institutions that seek to provide equitable access for people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity or physical ability. They provide a full range of resources needed to live, learn, govern and work. As library or public space designers, one of the main goals at Wight & Company is to delicately design a space that is multigenerational yet holistic.
As a natural process behind our design concepts, community engagement is an essential element to a project’s success. For this project, patrons shared their ideas through multiple surveys and in-person presentations. Their feedback addressed the need to improve program areas, serve diverse populations and create distinctively different spaces for multi-generational patrons. Fundamentally, the community holds the library in high regard and was excited to participate.
Every space within the library was designed to create program spaces that are sympathetic to and inclusive for all users. Through the generosity of Darvin Furniture, the Sensory Space offers a special learning experience for the youngest of children. It features Interface’s Driftwood carpet tile for ease in cleanability, replacement and acoustic considerations. The neutral color Linden was selected to reduce sensory stimulus.
INFLUENCING WELLNESS WITH BIOPHILIA CONCEPTS
The library, which was built in 2004, has ample access to natural day lighting and visual connections to the outdoor landscape. This renovation focused on rejuvenating those features and amplifying the importance of wellness and biophilic design concepts throughout the updated spaces. For example, to celebrate the outdoor-indoor connection, the stairwell corridor was enhanced with a forest preserve-inspired wall graphic linking the Children’s Library to the new outdoor area, known as “The Backyard.”
A selection of walk-off carpet tiles from Interface Super Flor provided a durable and low maintenance solution to align the functional requirements with a visual richness when patrons cross over from the indoor flooring to the outdoor wood composite deck.
Outside, our landscape team promoted wellness through the use of warm, biophilic and organic textures that align with the natural surroundings. A mix of Trex Transcend wood composite deck in Havana Gold with large flagstone from a local quarry, decomposed granite, and pea gravel created a backyard with a wholesome, nature-inspired design. Careful and deliberate considerations were given to maintain an environmentally friendly and sustainable solution.
WAYFINDING THROUGH FLOORING SOLUTIONS
For the renovation, the design team used flooring to assist in bridging the gaps and subtly transitioning to various spaces using color, rhythm and texture. Each space was given its own unique identity and visually engaging elements, while maintaining the overall look and feel of the building.
The bold geometry of Interface Driftwood in Linden, Oak, Pine and Palm offered an energetic, fractal pattern to denote shifting directions. The color lines, with the technology of mergeable dyes, provided a neutral range of half blends in vibrant yarns. This variety of blends helped create a perfect base field carpet.
Each open space is designed with a neutral color that gently transforms into a defined, user-specific space. The selection of color and boundaries was meticulously crafted to respond to each generation. As the group “ages,” the maturity of the color palette and textures develops in relation.
PLAYING WITH COLOR
The use of bright and playful colors, soft curves and contrasting materials elevated a sense of a marked footprint in the children’s area. The toddler scale and proportion were essential, respecting that every child is different, and the space needed to adapt to their growing interests and needs.
Vibrant green and yellow carpet tiles from Interface Driftwood collection helped enhance and reinvigorate the early childhood area of the library. The mix-and-match nature of the carpet tile patterning lends itself to ease in replacement in a high-use area of the library.
Custom-designed millwork solutions enhanced the natural and understood flow of the path supported by flooring direction, furnishings and upholstery graphics.
BALANCING THE ‘IN BE-TWEEN’
For youth that aren’t children anymore but not teens yet, a special space was created to address the “in be-tween” needs of the preteen age group. This multifunctional space provides a zone for hanging out, playing games, doing homework, reading, crafting and chatting.
The flooring material, dynamic ceiling pattern and light fixture layout were all pieces of the puzzle that aim to help navigate this age group to the next step in their journey. Special attention was paid to the color palette, with hues of greens converging to teals and blues for a calming effect.
Interface’s Driftwood collection carpet tile was used to define a seating area that features sophisticated furniture and finishes, with Driftwood in Palm establishing a clear walkway through the space.
Upgraded technology and the location of the space in the floor plan generate a perception of privacy, something most tweens crave.
EMPOWERING THE TEENS
In the Teen Loft, we aimed to create spaces that empower teens to make their own decisions. It is a flexible and diverse space that features glass study rooms, tall open ceilings and exposed ducts, and there are a variety of uses from gaming to private pods, and areas were arranged to provide elasticity in design.
Flexibility and consistent reconfiguration of this area warranted a solid vinyl flooring solution. Featuring the Textured Woodgrain plank collection by Interface in Silver Walnut, this space exudes a loft aesthetic and warmth while maintaining an easily cleanable and durable solution for a high-use teen activity and study area.
In addition, the lighting and acoustical solutions enhanced a sophisticated design exclusive to this space for teens to flourish.
This holistic design solution of the library is a result of a thoughtful and thorough design process that respected the perspective of all generations. The playful and sophisticated selections of the flooring product type and patterning honored the guiding principles and supported wellness initiatives surrounding biophilic and universal design.
The value of an inclusive process and alignment with the community goals truly created a genuine and successful renovation project.
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