New Stella Link Branch Library features ‘people-friendly’ design
— reported by the Houston Business Journal
Going for a “wow” factor, the City of Houston’s library system wanted to incorporate a people-friendly environment and advanced technology with the construction of the John P. McGovern Stella Link Branch Library at 7405 Stella Link.
Consisting of two interlocking blocks, the library, a first of its kind in Houston, blends with the context and different scales of the surrounding suburban fabric of homes, a fire station, a clinic and a YMCA.
The library entrance is marked by a wavy canopy of orange glass, the first of many colorful elements that define spaces within the simple rectangle of the building. The canopy leads to a long gallery which provides access to all public and staff areas. The far end of the gallery is an Internet café with colorful banners overhead and food and beverage vending machines.
Another feature is the largest teen and children’s collections in Houston, an abundance of computers and a distance learning center in conjunction with Texas A&M University, made possible by the Stella Link Redevelopment Association’s effort in obtaining a large federal grant for funding of the center.
Distinctively designed areas cater to different library visitors. The teen center radiates hipness, while the children’s area is awash in color and features life-size artificial trees and suspended clouds to create a playful atmosphere.
In the center of the tall glass north wall that faces the park is a protective enclosure for the children’s play space, full of big stuffed books, huge pink pearl erasers and big soft pencils — all used for sitting, climbing and lounging.
A more traditional adult area offers comfortable chairs to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere for reading books or magazines. A circular chain mesh drapery and a cylinder of glass blocks define other computer study zones and digital controlled special effects lighting funded separately by City of Houston as a civic art project integrated into the building project.