Abandoned Wal-Mart Converted into the Country’s Largest Single-Story Library
July 5, 2012
All photos: Lara Swimmer
So this is what the future was supposed to have looked like. What’s intriguing about the McAllen Public Library in Texas is how it inadvertently resembles the real-world application of Cedric Price’s blank, non-aesthetic superstructures in which courts or leisurely spaces could be aggregated or even reconfigured at any time. That’s (partly) what Minneapolis-based architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. have done with their massive project in McAllen, converting an abandoned Wal-Mart warehouse into the largest single-story library in the country.
At 124,500 square feet, the equivalent span of 2 1/2 football fields, the library consists of a field of book pavilions anchored by central service clusters, where bathrooms, check-out counters, and computers are collected in brightly colored kiosks and enclaves. Large marquees indicating book categories are suspended from the ceiling, nestled among a series of dish-like lighting fixtures. Cutesy graphics sit comfortably beside more blatant architectonic details, from the lasercut perforated feature walls and frosted, patterned glazing. Apparently, the design is a hit, with new user registration up 23% in the first month of operation alone.