09-29-15

The Public Library: Designing a Community Asset

Recently, HBM Architects received national attention for their leading-edge library projects. The CUDC’s new Post-Graduate Fellow, Sam Friesema, worked for the firm and had a hand in the recognized projects. This is his story about his involvement and how he plans to bring his expertise to our work with the Cleveland Public Library and their CPL150 Community Vision Plan.


Before joining the CUDC, I had the privilege of working for HBM Architects for 4 ½ years. HBM specializes in library planning and design and has worked with over 300 libraries throughout the country. Libraries are in an exciting period of exploration where traditional library services are transitioning as technologies rapidly alter information access in our society. Libraries are becoming community centers and neighborhood technology hubs. Instead of housing books they now house activities, workshops, cafés, performance spaces, interactive learning areas for all ages, and yes, still a few books.

Libraries are an integral part of any city. As a public amenity, libraries build upon input from the community to construct spaces which meet local needs. While we can only guess what the library of the future might look like, several new projects give a glimpse into cutting edge library design. Four HBM projects recently received national attention for their innovative architectural visions of the contemporary library. I was fortunate to work on all of these projects at varying capacities.

hbm projects

Click on project name for more images and information:

  1. EAST ROSWELL BRANCH LIBRARY – ATLANTA-FULTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
  2. NORTHSIDE LIBRARY JEFFERSON – MADISON REGIONAL LIBRARY
  3. SOUTHEAST DAVIDSON LIBRARY & COMMUNITY CENTER – NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
  4. WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS BRANCH LIBRARY – CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY

Projects range in size and scope, from adaptive reuse to new construction. While each project is very unique, themes start to emerge as to where library services are headed: Open floor plans, flexible meeting spaces, technology saturation, less book shelves, casual seating areas, maker spaces, interactive early childhood literacy areas, all act to inspire the next generation of public library users.

Looking ahead, I am excited by the CUDC’s involvement with Cleveland Public Library’s CPL150 Community Vision Plan and hope to continue contributing to the library world in my new role here at the CUDC.

-Sam Friesema, Graduate Fellow

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