Gould Evans Rewraps Kansas Library

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Rather than adding on to one end of the existing structure, Gould Evans wrapped a new reading room and terra cotta facade around the old Lawrence Public Library. (Courtesy Gould Evans)

Rather than adding on to one end of the existing structure, Gould Evans wrapped a new reading room and terra cotta facade around the old Lawrence Public Library. (Courtesy Gould Evans)

Terra cotta rain screen transforms brutalist eyesore into energy-efficient community space.

Considered an aesthetic and functional failure almost since its construction in 1974, the old public library in Lawrence, Kansas, was overdue for a renovation four decades later. Gould Evans‘ challenge was to transform the low-slung brutalist behemoth, a poor environmental performer lacking both adequate daylighting and a sense of connection to the community, into an asset. “The desire was to try to come up with a building that basically reinvented the library for the community,” said vice president Sean Zaudke. Rather than tacking an addition on to one end of the existing structure, the architects elected to wrap a 20,000-square-foot reading room and open stacks area around the old facade. In so doing, they altered the exterior for the better, swapping bare concrete for an earth-hued terra cotta rain screen punctuated by plentiful glazing. They also significantly enhanced the library’s environmental performance, with early estimates suggesting that the new Lawrence Public Library will see a 50 percent reduction in energy usage despite a 50 percent increase in square footage.

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BNIM’s Entrepreneurial Envelope for the University of Missouri-Kansas City

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BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell wrapped the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall in multicolored terra cotta and glass. (James Ewing)

BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell wrapped the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall in multicolored terra cotta and glass. (James Ewing)

A tight budget and short timeline inspired an innovative concrete and terra cotta facade.

BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell approached the design of the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with two objectives. The first was to express the creative spirit of the university’s program in entrepreneurship, which at that point lacked dedicated support spaces. The second goal was to tie the contemporary structure to its historic surroundings. Moore Ruble Yudell, who developed many of the project’s interior concepts, tackled the former, creating flexible classroom and laboratory spaces and a multi-story amphitheater that doubles as casual seating and a venue for school-wide gatherings. As for the latter, BNIM designed a multicolored terra cotta envelope that balances singularity with connection. “The idea was to create a building that sat by itself, but somehow bring it into context in terms of materials,” explained BNIM senior project architect Greg Sheldon.
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