Not Your Grandpa’s Library

Asked to envision a library, one might conjure up images of stacks of musty books, dimly-lit wood-paneled rooms in hushed silence and cabinets of Dewey Decimal cards that lead to a prized tome.

Our Dayton Metro Main Library project in Ohio is anything but that: with design elements that include glass, steel and natural materials that bring in natural light, open space and encourage social interaction in a model that turns traditional library construction on its head.

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The Main Branch of the Dayton Library will incorporate future-proofing elements like raised floors for cable runs and back-of-house space for next-gen technologies that will make the structure more inviting and longer-lasting. Credit: Skanska USA.

“It’s more like a community center than a library – there’s an emphasis on programming and connection,” says Senior Project Manager Greg Lowery. He describes the all-glass building as maximizing exposure “in every nook and cranny” and incorporating movable glass partition walls to make the space as nimble as possible to accommodate groups both large and small.

The Main Library is one of five buildings Skanska is working on for Dayton’s expansive library system – and one of two projects with an expansion component we are constructing there. A third is a completely new building.

Lowery says his favorite elements in the renovated building include a grand staircase entrance and a planned fireplace with exposed brick that will provide a welcoming space to read and interact. A coffee shop will fill the space with inviting aromas.

Beyond the design elements, Lowery says Skanska’s expertise came through in making the building flexible for its future needs. He points out the building has raised floors rather than concrete slabs, allowing installation of new cable and utility runs simply by removing a panel. He says that will make future room re-configurations easier and save money for the library and the city.

“We helped look beyond the immediate plans for the library to leave room for technologies and expansions that will come 10 and 20 years from now,” he says. “We helped preserve options for future developments no one can even predict today.”

Skanska has particular expertise in this area, having provided preconstruction and construction management at risk services for the multi-award winning James B. Hunt Jr. Library on North Carolina State’s Centennial Campus.

Lowery credits the Skanska preconstruction teams with helping to cost-benefit the future-proofing concepts and convincing the client of its importance.

“And kids will love it,” he says. “With USB charging ports and tablets available to search for information, it’s a long way from when I sat in the basement of my library searching microfiche archives for a term paper.”

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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