The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA) are celebrating five libraries with the 2023 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for excellence in architectural design. Complete details for each project are available on AIA’s website.
Award recipients must demonstrate design achievement, including a sense of place, purpose, ecology, environmental sustainability, and history. This year’s AIA/ALA Library Building Award recipients, selected by a seven-person jury, exemplify these qualities.
2023 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards recipients
- Atherton Library, Atherton, CA | WRNS Studio
A centerpiece of Atherton, California’s decades-long quest to revitalize its aging town square, the town’s new library is a welcoming oasis and a prime destination for the community. The LEED Gold-certified and zero net energy-ready building is reflective of the modern library’s evolution from simple book depository to vibrant civic hub. It replaces a much older facility with nearly double the square footage and a wide range of programs that reinforce San Mateo County Libraries’ tagline, Open for Exploration.
- Louisville Free Public Library Northeast Regional Library, Louisville, KY | MSR Design and JRA Architects
Situated on a once-neglected green space associated with the historic Italianate-style Bellevoir Mansion, the new library replaces a much smaller and outdated facility and has transformed the site into a new park centered on lifelong learning. A core goal for the new building is to honor its historically meaningful context. The team’s design for the library respects the scale of the mansion, preserves nearly all of the mature trees on the site, and sensitively integrates a series of extended walking paths for patrons, staff, and nearby businesses to utilize.
- Missoula Public Library New Main Library, Missoula, MT | MSR Design and A&E Design
Standing tall on Main Street, the library retracts as it opens to the Clark Fork River, an adjacent park, and a residential neighborhood. The building’s shifting scale unites its urban and residential surroundings, and the design provides multiple access points for those caught in bad weather as they use the popular riverfront walking paths that lead downtown. Missoula is located in the convergence of five valleys, and the library’s design draws on the region’s geology to evoke layers of sediment, glacial activity, and the mountain skyline in its overall form.
- Student Success District, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ | The Miller Hull Partnership LLP and Poster Mirto McDonald
In renovating the existing spaces and adding the new four-story LEED Gold-certified Bartlett Academic Success Center, the team shaped an interconnected nine-acre Student Success District that actively engages students. The renovated gym is the district’s heart, and elements of its suspended mezzanine bleachers and gym floor were carefully retained. It remains on the National Register of Historic Places and was preserved according to the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines.
- Woburn Public Library, Woburn, MA | CBT
Adding an additional 30,500 square feet to the historic Woburn, Massachusetts, public library, this simple but elegant contemporary expansion enhances rather than competes with the original design. Inclusive and efficient, the addition has revived the library’s status as a vibrant community center. Its flexible spaces accommodate future growth and shifting community needs, while its improved accessibility creates a welcoming learning environment for all.
Libraries are more than learning centers—they’re also enduring examples of architectural excellence. Every year, the AIA is proud to partner with Core to honor the best in library architecture and design.
The AIA/ALA Library Building Awards are the only awards that recognize entire library structures and all aspects of their design. They are open to all types of libraries that permit public access, and projects may be located anywhere in the world.
ALA and Core thank the American Institute of Architects for sponsoring this award.