Lawrence Public Library, Lawrence, KS

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Built in 1974, the Lawrence Public Library is at the heart of Lawrence, Kansas. But with attendance down, especially among youth, the city of Lawrence spearheaded a renovation and expansion to modernize the library into a high-performance community hub.

Working alongside architects Gould Evans, Syska Hennessy Group served as MEP design engineers through design development and as building performance modeling consultants through LEED certification. Even with a tight budget and schedule, we designed an energy-efficient civic centerpiece with nearly 50 percent more usable space, but consuming less energy than the original library.

With sustainability as a focus, we conducted extensive energy and daylight models of the existing library to provide clear strategies to minimize use of natural resources. The building’s original single-pane windows and vertical concrete pillars prevented appropriate thermal protection, so the expansion space enclosed the old façade and used a high-performance building envelope. After upgrading the roof membrane and insulation, skylights and clerestory windows were added to allow for exceptional daylighting throughout.

Our goal was to help the library meet the Architecture 2030 Challenge and achieve LEED Silver certification. Our approach also included:

  • Reuse of existing building and mechanical systems, including new and repurposed roof-mounted packaged air-handling units with energy recovery.
  • Daylight harvesting via clerestories and new skylights.
  • Terra cotta rain screen for improved solar shading and thermal performance.
  • Deep overhangs for sun shading to provide daylight without glare or heat gain.
  • Low-flow water fixtures.
  • Light-level and occupancy light sensors.

The 20,000 sf expansion doubled the size of the children’s room and increased public meeting spaces, and the library now includes teen gaming zones, quiet rooms, a music recording studio, coffee bar, butterfly garden and an outside lawn area.

After the renovations, library visits increased by 55 percent, and youth-program participation grew by an impressive 160 percent. As a model of sustainable design, the award-winning Lawrence Public Library will inspire and engage the community for generations to come.

Library Building Awards, AIA/ALA, 2016

New Landmark Libraries, Library Journal, 2015

Excellence in Architecture Honor Award, AIA Kansas, 2015

LEED Status
Registered with Goal of LEED© Silver

66,150 sf (46,150-sf renovation, 20,000-sf addition)

City of Lawrence, Kansas

B.A. Green Construction Co.

Building Performance Modeling
Sustainability Engineering
Photovoltaic accommodation
Energy-efficient lighting
Energy simulations