DALLAS – Within the itty-bitty strip mall that backs up on the lately opened Vickery Park Department Library in Dallas, you possibly can store for groceries and different sundry gadgets at Burmese, Ethiopian and Mexican markets. That’s three continents in about 45 ft.
Vickery Meadow, as that spice-scented emporium attests, has change into the guts of immigrant and refugee life in Dallas. It’s a dense and various neighborhood, although its structure, largely nondescript residence complexes in numerous levels of decline, doesn’t do a lot to replicate the character of the inhabitants.
That unlucky situation will get a welcome aesthetic increase with the addition of the $6 million Vickery Park library, which transforms an empty lot into what, because the pandemic subsides, ought to change into a vibrant cultural and academic hub.
“There are 56 languages spoken locally, and I can’t even title 56 languages,” says the challenge’s architect, Robert Meckfessel, founding principal of Oak Cliff-based DSGN Associates. That linguistic range is sort of actually included into the constructing: the phrase “welcome” is etched into the glass home windows fronting the entry in Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Chin, English, French, Nepali, Spanish, Swahili and Tigrinya.
The principle physique of the library takes the form of an ellipse, its curving varieties, in response to Meckfessel, responding to communal visitors patterns throughout the location, which hyperlinks the converging streets of Park Lane and Ridgecrest Street. Throughout vacation instances, the empty lot now occupied by the library had been used for the neighborhood’s standard annual Pageant of Gentle. To keep up that custom, a big Lacebark Elm was imported from Arkansas — yet one more neighborhood immigrant — and was planted in a landscaped space in entrance of the library, to behave as a centerpiece for the occasion.
That space additionally features a youngsters’s play area with a climbing construction, an amenity requested by neighborhood members throughout public planning periods for the constructing. Kids are a precedence for the library, which is straight throughout the road from the DISD’s Sam Tasby Center and Jack Lowe Elementary colleges.
There’s additionally extra parking than essential — 36 areas, as required by metropolis code — nevermind that it’s alongside a bus route and in a neighborhood the place not everybody drives. The panorama design is by Dallas-based Studio Outdoors.
The only-story constructing’s clear traces and funky materials palette betray Meckfessel’s modernist sensibility. He’s a longtime advocate for the preservation of midcentury structure, each in Dallas and nationally. The unique conception for the constructing was very a lot in that idiom: “It began as a glass field, however we would have liked extra shelf area.” Therefore the grey brick. A broad overhanging cover wraps the outside, offering shelter from the weather alongside the constructing’s edge, whereas retaining the solar at bay.
The ability goals at a excessive degree of sustainability. It’s designed to be 100% carbon impartial, with photo voltaic voltaic panels on the roof offering 33 % of its energy. A nook of the landscaped web site, alongside Park Lane, is given over to a stormwater retention pond.
In fashionable custom, the 18,000-square-foot facility is open in plan, providing librarians what Meckfessel calls “final flexibility.” Utilities are run beneath a raised ground, with a cushty, rubberized floor specified by library employees. It’s a brilliant area, lit by broad home windows that break the brick façade, and by a line of clerestory home windows above.
Three drum-shaped pods (in crimson, blue and inexperienced respectively) of various measurement float within the inside area, offering enclosed areas for courses (English as a second language is standard) and different conferences. The biggest of the pods is subdivided into quirky wedges for small teams.
There may be intelligent element work as effectively: The guide stacks have powder-coated metallic finish caps, primarily dry-erase whiteboards so librarians can simply re-classify a shelf when essential. Within the massive youngsters’s space, there are window packing containers in brilliant crimson for cozy, sequestered studying.
An oblong construction composed of tilt-up concrete panels, is clipped onto the rear of the elliptical library constructing; inside it’s a 90-seat assembly room, a versatile storage space and workplace area, the latter saved deliberately small to encourage employees to stay on the library ground.
The library’s most dramatic characteristic is the uncovered metal tensile system that helps its metallic roof deck. To maintain the central space of the library column-free, Meckfessel and structural engineer Tom Taylor, of Datum Engineers, created a three-dimensional truss system, with a community of metal cables traversing the width of the 80-foot span. “Tom doesn’t like doing issues the simple method,” says Meckfessel, of Taylor, a revered determine within the Dallas structure neighborhood.
The cables meet at suspended kingposts, clean-lined white metal cylinders that have been some extent of delight for Taylor.
The system was initially not supposed to be uncovered, however that modified when Meckfessel noticed it being put in throughout development. “We weren’t making any effort to make it architecturally enticing, as a result of the idea was it might be coated with drywall,” Taylor says. “However I’ve an inborn opinion that should you provide you with a very nice system to resolve structural points, than it’s robotically architecturally pleasing.”
That’s assuredly the case right here, and it’s particularly acceptable in a library, an area devoted to opening our eyes to issues we would not ordinarily see. For that matter, giving the unseen a dignified presence appears simply the proper metaphor for a library in Vickery Meadow, a neighborhood that’s typically ignored, however worthy of consideration.
Its options now embrace a tremendous new work of contemporary design.
©2021 The Dallas Morning Information. Distributed by Tribune Content material Company, LLC.