Hacker Architects has renovated the Salem Public Library in downtown Salem, Oregon, USA. The building required renovation to bring its structure and building systems up to modern standards.

The original concrete structure was designed by George Rockrise with Salem architect Donald Richardson and built-in 1972, then expanded in 1990. After half a century it required renovation to ensure safety and accessibility.
Hacker Architects collaborated with the Salem Public Library team to create a welcoming, safe and flexible space, with good lighting and large spaces that look fortress-like from the outside due to its 1970s Brutalist aesthetic.

Inside, the layout of the library's sections has been relocated to improve circulation and the experience for staff and visitors, with staff spaces on the ground floor and public areas on the upper levels, organized by age and with dedicated spaces for children and teens.


Salem Public Library Renovation by Hacker architects. Photograph by Lara Swimmer.


Salem Public Library Renovation by Hacker architects. Photograph by Lara Swimmer.
 

Description of project by Hacker Architects

The Salem Public Library’s downtown location was due for a renovation to bring its structural resilience and building systems up to modern standards. The 96,000-square-foot concrete structure was originally designed by in 1970 by San Francisco architect George Rockrise with Salem architect of record Donald Richardson and built-in 1972. It underwent an expansion in 1990. After 50 years, the building was in need of seismic upgrades, accessibility improvements and life-safety updates. The city and library saw this as a rare chance to address some of the additional challenges encountered by staff and library patrons in their aging concrete building and outdated spaces. In an era when Brutalist architecture is threatened with demolition worldwide, Salem opted to save their concrete public library—and bring it up to date for 21st-century patrons.

Design for Integration and Resources
Through a deep partnership with the library team, a vision was established to create a space that is welcoming, safe, and flexible while enriching a connection between people and their community. The design brings daylight into the core of the large, fortress-like building, transforming an inward-facing brutalist-era building into a bright, voluminous space that invites the community in. New windows and redesigned entrances create connections between outside and in, and the voluminous central space creates vertical connections between floors. With almost no wiggle room in a utilitarian budget, the design team for the library needed to get creative finding ways to make every dollar spent do double-duty. Each aspect of the design is filtered through a practical lens of how each choice can contribute to improved seismic and life safety while also delivering on a vision that is community-oriented and centers the experience of patrons and staff.

Design for Change
To create a more pleasant, cohesive library experience for patrons, the design reimagines how different spaces with different functions relate to one another – staff spaces vs. public spaces, the needs of library sections serving different age groups, quiet zones, noisy zones, and high-traffic areas. Library staff and back-of-house spaces are now consolidated on the lower floor for greater efficiency and functionality. Active public spaces are found primarily on the upper two levels. The youth services previously separated by several floors now relocated to the top level to allow for greater sharing of resources as well as improved operations and clarity of collections, which includes vibrant new spaces for the Teen Scene and Children’s areas, and the Discovery Room has been relocated to Children’s. The lower level plaza opens up to an active, bustling main entrance, adjacent to a maker space for hands-on learning, meeting and conference space, and a community room that can accommodate larger events after regular library hours.

More information

Label
Architects
Text
Hacker Architects. Project Manager & Principal-in-Charge.- Laura Klinger.
+ + copy Created with Sketch.
- + copy Created with Sketch.
Label
Proyect team
Text
Design Principal.- David Keltner.

Interior Design Principal.- Jennie Fowler.

Interior Design Team.- Anya Smith, Whitney Jordan, Tracey Olson, Mayumi Nakazato, Daniel Childs.

Architectural Team.- Nick Pectol, Caleb Couch, Lewis Williams.

Project QA/QC.- Matt Sugarbaker.
+ + copy Created with Sketch.
- + copy Created with Sketch.
Label
Collaborators
Text
Design-Build Contractor.- Howard S. Wright.

Landscape.- Ground Workshop.

Civil Engineer.- Westech Engineering.

Structural Engineer.- KPFF.

Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer.- PAE.

Electrical Engineer.- PAE.

Lighting.- O-.

Acoustical Engineer.- Listen Acoustics.

Signage/Wayfinding.- The Felt Hat.

Code Consultant.- Code Unlimited.
+ + copy Created with Sketch.
- + copy Created with Sketch.
Label
Client
Text
City of Salem.
+ + copy Created with Sketch.
- + copy Created with Sketch.
Label
Area
Text
8918,7 sqm.
+ + copy Created with Sketch.
- + copy Created with Sketch.
Label
Location
Text
Salem, Oregon, United States of America.
+ + copy Created with Sketch.
- + copy Created with Sketch.
Label
Photography
+ + copy Created with Sketch.
- + copy Created with Sketch.
Hacker Architects is an architecture & planning firm founded by Thom Hacker in 1983. The studio provides architectural and design services. They believe that architecture is best when it’s an honest expression of the people and institutions it serves, when it interacts dynamically with its surroundings, makes humble use of the earth’s resources, and has an understated dignity based on carefully crafted construction and the natural beauty of materials.

More than a craft or practice, Hacker sees architecture as a calling to create beauty and serve humanity, requiring deepest listening, questioning, curiosity and engagement.
Read more
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...
Loading content ...