Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.
1IntroductionMissoula’s new $38 million USD library building opened to the public in July 2021. The following July, the Missoula Public Library was named the 2022 International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)/Systematic Public Library of the Year. Jurors cited the project’s holistic approach to creating a functional, sustainable, and beautiful cultural center for the city. Jury chair Jakob Guillois Lærkes stated, “Missoula Public Library has it all. The building stands out for its beautiful architecture that pays homage to the surrounding landscape while functioning as a library with a wealth of offers and possibilities that also serves as a meeting place for the local community.”The new 106 675 sf (9910 m2) Missoula Public Library houses four community organizations, in addition to the Missoula Public Library, which support STEM learning, family counseling and social services, and audiovisual production. They include Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT), Families First Learning Lab, the University of Montana SpectrUM Discovery Area, and the University of Montana Living Lab. By combining several community organizations under one roof, the library provides a free equitable cultural hub for a region suffering from a dearth of cultural offerings. Located in the heart of a walkable downtown, the library was designed through a community-oriented process with participation throughout the design. Carefully integrated throughout the building, the partner spaces share commonalities of design language to simultaneously provide a cohesive aesthetic and ensure that the identity of each partner shines through.Creating this cultural center was a years-long journey with many hands involved in shaping the project, from community members and library leadership and staff to – notably – its nonprofit partners. Missoula Public Library’s colocated partnership is unique in the United States and a genius answer to the ever-increasing demands of the ever-evolving library. As libraries are asked to do more – and be more – for their communities than ever before, establishing partnerships can extend the breadth and depth of services required to help community members thrive in the twenty-first century. The partner organizations within the Missoula Public Library that used to charge admission are now free and open to the public in exchange for a custom-designed, rent-free home. Former Missoula mayor John Engen articulated the importance of the project in terms of advancing Missoula’s goals to better serve youth, families, and low-income residents: “Too often, organizations serving particular groups of constituents put on blinders, defend their missions at all costs, and worry about losing if someone else is winning. This partnership makes winners all around and, ultimately, the Public, with a capital P, wins.”Fig. 1:Building exterior as viewed from intersection of East Main Street and North Adams Street (Photo: Lara Swimmer)Missoula’s new library is designed to serve the whole person; support the well-being of staff and visitors; and reduce physical, emotional, cultural, health, and sensory barriers to using the building. To create resilient communities, we need our public places to welcome everyone so that we can nurture the skills our communities need in order to thrive. To thrive as humans, we must tend to our well-being. That attention requires maintaining strong social connections, practicing good nutrition, and staying physically and mentally active, feeling productive and valued in our communities, and feeding our spirit. Library buildings that foster human well-being must provide a wide variety of spaces and experiences so people can self-sort based on their individual service (and other) needs. This focus guided new Missoula Public Library building design.2A Case for NeedMissoula Public Library (MPL) is a city-county library with a service population of 120 000. Missoula County is located in the mountains in the northwestern part of the United States. Located within the hub of five valleys and nestled between mountain ranges, Missoula engages the community and its visitors as a place of recreation, inspiration, and habitat to vital flora and fauna. The county is filled with small mountain and rural towns. This region of the US averages less than one person per square kilometer. Living in Montana involves negotiating isolation, driving long driving distances for essentials (often through difficult mountainous terrain and under severe weather conditions), and experiencing seasonal wildfires. The second largest city in Montana with a population of 75 000 people, Missoula is home to the University of Montana, which brings a university population and vibrancy to the city. It has a small-town feel, and the downtown is undergoing revitalization with new restaurants, boutiques, and shops supporting its premier fly-fishing industry. The closest major metropolitan area is Calgary in Alberta, Canada – across the border and 700 km from Missoula.Fig. 2:Hub of five valleys (Map: MSR Design)Missoula’s existing library building was built in 1974, when Missoula County’s population was half the size it would grow to by 2015 when programming and design for the new building began. The role of public libraries then was deeply centered around the printed word, and the digital revolution was just beginning. At that time, customer access to electrical outlets was scarce and seating was extremely limited. The building was operating well over its capacity, which hamstrung the staff’s efforts to grow and evolve services the community needed. The library hosted 700 000 visits per year and circulated more than one million items, yet the building was inaccessible and presented barriers to use for a large portion of the community. The building housed just two meeting rooms – both undersized and in constant use – and no study rooms. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) was well past the end of its useful life and highly inefficient. Repairs to keep the system running were increasingly frequent and costly, and often the parts needed for repairs were no longer available. A 2010 feasibility study determined that the existing building was not suitable for renovation or expansion.In addition to the physical shortcomings of its library building, the community’s needs had changed. While its spectacular natural surroundings often land Missoula in the top 100 cities to live, food insecurity, mental health challenges, and housing insecurity are issues in Missoula County. Its public schools rank well in comparison to its peers in Montana, but the hard truth is that Montana’s K-12 schools rank thirty-sixth (of fifty states) in the nation. In 2015, 40 % of Missoula County’s five- and six-year-olds were not “Kindergarten-ready.”Holly Truitt, former director of spectrUM, one of the building partners, put it this way in 2016:Missoula, Montana, is a community committed to ensuring all children and families can access parks, open space, and rich informal learning. However, we also are considered the most expensive city in Montana – a state already named the fourth most expensive in the nation to raise a child based on cost of living and income. One in five of Missoula children live in poverty, and one-third of those who use our Missoula Food Bank are under the age of 18.Truitt, Holly. “Coming under one roof: Creating a culture house in Missoula”. Dimensions (2016): 44–47.The need for a new library building was clear. When then library director Honore Bray embarked on the early planning stages for a new building, she assessed this landscape and saw opportunity for innovation that would make a transformational impact on the region.3The Vision: an Ecosystem of PartnersBray’s vision was to create a cultural hub for the community – a place where the citizens of the region could create, gather, work, learn, and play, focused on free access to cultural amenities that were traditionally pay-to-play.She recalled her days as a K-12 teacher and the wonder and excitement the kids exuded when on a field trip. Out of the classroom and learning through play, her students fully and willingly engaged in the activities. Once back in the classroom and at their desks, that joy and wonder faded. Bray wanted to find a way to engage Missoulians of all ages in hands-on learning to promote lifelong learning and curiosity. She sought to create, in her words, “a new building that gives Missoulians of every age and background access to vibrant and diverse learning experiences.” She recognized that today’s libraries need spaces and programs that nurture the skills needed for people to thrive in the twenty-first century. She also recognized that given budget and staffing challenges she would need partners to turn that vision into reality. The county had made it clear that, despite needing a building three times the size of the existing one, Bray would not receive additional staff to operate it.Fig. 3:Existing 1974 building (Photo: Missoula Public Library archives)Partnerships were not new to Missoula Public Library (MPL). About 30 years prior to the project start, MPL entered into a partnership with 17 libraries across Montana to start the Montana Shared Catalog (MSC). The initial program allowed users across Montana to borrow materials from any of the 17 libraries by placing a hold on the item at their community library. What MPL learned from that early partnership was that success breeds success: today, the MSC has grown to over 120 member libraries of all types that share materials. MPL recognized that partnerships offer library users a better experience. When it came to the new building, library staff determined that by partnering with specific nonprofits, the library could strengthen its programming, as well as the programming of these other organizations.Scandinavian libraries have a long history of sharing spaces using a “culture house” model that combines essential services with the library. Inspired by this model, Bray and Missoula Public Library Foundation director Karl Olson approached area nonprofits with missions that complemented the library’s. At the top of the list were organizations that offered necessary services for community resilience and, in keeping with Bray’s vision of a one-stop shop for family enrichment, offered hands-on learning experiences. Bray and Olson started these meetings by asking whether the organization had a need the library could help fill.After sifting through dozens of possibilities, the committee selected three nonprofits: Families First Learning Lab, which builds parenting knowledge (teaching parenting through play and offering hands-on monitored play) and offers support systems in times of needwww.familiesfirstmt.org (November 25, 2022).; spectrUM Discovery Area, a partnership with the University of Montana that provides STEM-based learning through playwww.umt.edu/spectrum (November 25, 2022).; and Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT), which offers residents and organizations training and tools to produce media.https://mcat.org (November 25, 2022). A hidden Missoula gem, MCAT saw the colocation as an opportunity to extend its reach into the greater community. With these nonprofit partners identified, meetings to define the partnership began and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was drafted. A key aspect of the MOU was the requirement that each entity waive its entry fees in exchange for space in the building. The library also established an agreement with a local café called Trapper Peak, which provides catering and a full-service café at reduced costs in return for low-rent space.4A Fifth PartnerAs the partnership was forming, another aspect of the project partnership was being sought. An interview committee formed to select the architects that would design the new building. This committee of 27 individuals included library administration and staff members, library foundation representatives, library board members, and representative citizens across age groups. The committee was charged with creating the request for proposals (RFP), assessing the nine proposals submitted, selecting four firms to interview, conducting interviews, and ultimately choosing the design team. Each team consisted of a local firm and a national library architecture firm with significant experience designing libraries. In April 2015, the collaborative of MSR Design from Minneapolishttps://msrdesign.com (November 25, 2022). and A&E Design from Missoulahttps://ae.design/ (November 25, 2022). was chosen to design the new building. Shortly after, Dick Anderson Construction (DAC) was named the construction manager. DAC’s role during the design process was to provide cost estimating and local trade and material context that would inform the design.5Gaining Project SupportThe next step was to create a building program and design concept that would resonate with the community and build public and city-county leadership support. Full design of the building would follow only when the public funding was secured. MPL is a city-county library funded with local tax dollars and governed by a five-member library board of trustees. The new building would rely on public funds provided by a general obligation (GO) bond. A GO bond is a municipal funding mechanism for projects that may not generate revenue and generally increase property taxes for citizens. A consultant determined that $30 million USD was the maximum amount the community would likely support, which would cost the average homeowner about $28 USD per year for 20 years. Approval of the bond initiative must be granted by the citizens through a vote. To add the bond initiative to the local ballot, the library administration needed to request a formal public hearing with the Missoula County Commissioners to convince them that the project was worthy of being added to the ballot.To inform the building program and concept, the design team launched a months-long period of discovery, stakeholder input, and visioning. “Missoula Immersion Week” – seven full days of meetings, stakeholder engagement, events, and immersion in the place and culture of Missoula County – kicked off the process. The team deepened its understanding of what would make the new library truly of Missoula in its design with a programmatic makeup that would serve the region well into the future. This understanding was distilled into a list of project-guiding principles, which were informed, vetted, debated, and ultimately agreed to by all four building partners. These principles represented a shared vision of project success and were carried through the entire design process, including construction, to form a foundation for prioritization and decisionmaking.The next step was to create a building program grounded in this shared vision. Community input and each of the building partners informed the collection of spaces required in a “bottom-up” approach to sizing the building. Working “top-down” assuming a budget of $35 million ($30 million in public funds augmented by an anticipated $5 million in private funds), it became clear that part of the design team’s role would be cultivating a spirit of sharing and integration among the partners. With limited resources, duplication of spaces was not an option. Nor was it in the best interest of the organizations or customers, or aligned with the shared vision of project success that would garner the support required for the project to be funded.Fig. 4:“Immersion Week” event at Caras Park along downtown Missoula’s riverfront (Photo: MSR Design)The partner MOU did not provide guidance regarding the physical organization of the partnership in the building (e. g., how visible each organization’s individual identity would be inside and outside the building or decision-making protocols about space use, such as ownership or the right of first refusal of program rooms). A full understanding of what it would mean to cohabitate on a day-to-day basis did not exist at that point. The programming and concept design process became a critical tool to work through these issues and create clarity for the partners.One concern for MPL’s partners was a sense that each entity would be unable to fully realize its own mission if key spaces were not duplicated. Design tools (e. g., adjacency diagrams and user journey mapping and research and precedent images) helped the partners see possibilities in sharing spaces, such as staff workrooms and project areas. Another concern was partner identity. The partners’ initial conception was of a segregated existence in the building – maintaining distinct identities in the building, similar to a shopping mall with discrete storefronts. Referencing the project guiding principles helped the partners reconfirm priorities and determine that the best visitor and staff experience would arise from an integrated expression of the partnership throughout the building.The final tumbler in the sharing ethos clicked into place during a partner trip to visit the House of Culture in Stockholm and other project precedents. There, representatives from the partnership experienced first-hand the service model that would be used to develop the new library and came back energized by the possibilities of acting as a collective, not as individual organizations that happen to coexist within a building.With the foundational decisions about the building’s organization and program in place, the design team moved forward with an initial building concept that would articulate each partner’s identity, while creating a cohesive whole grounded in the special place that is Missoula. This phase resulted in a common visual language grounded in place rather than in the organizations themselves. With human well-being at the heart of the approach, the design team used the triple bottom line definition of sustainability (social, environmental, and short- and long-term economics) to inform the building siting and massing. The design team tested the building program in various configurations over multiple levels, ultimately creating a very active main level, a second level dedicated to children and their caregivers, a third level that provides space for adult users to experience quiet engagement, and a top floor dedicated to programs and events.Since full design would not be authorized until funding was secured, a key to this stage of the design process is a certain lack of specificity about the design so supporters could read into the design whatever would inspire them. This process gives the individuals responsible for generating community support the flexibility to tailor a project narrative that resonates with each stakeholder group, while adhering to the project essence.Fig. 5:Partner study trip to Stockholm (Photo: Holly Truit)The design process paused while the project entered its support-generating phase. Support was needed for both the public bond initiative (educating the public about the project and generating support to fund the project) and a private fundraising campaign to augment the public dollars. The private campaign for support was launched with the title “All Under One Roof” to reflect the project vision for an integrated ecosystem of partners. A bond committee was formed to campaign for the ballot issue under the name “Yes for Our Library.” This committee canvased neighborhoods, spoke to local community service groups, and set up information centers at farmers’ markets to share information and need for the project and urge people to vote. “Our community needed to know that their tax dollars were not the sole source of the funding, and that the public library was working on ways to add services, partners, and more spaces to increase their community involvement,” noted Barbara Theroux, retired downtown business owner and president of the Friends of the Missoula Public Library.https://www.missoulapubliclibrary.org/home/about/give-volunteer/friends-of-missoula-public-library/ (November 25, 2022). Concurrently, the Missoula Public Library Foundation worked with outside consultant Kevin Wallace of Campaign Counselhttps://www.campaigncounsel.org/ (November 25, 2022). to form a capital campaign committee. Under Olson’s leadership, this committee was charged with raising private funds that ultimately totaled $7 million USD.Despite great gains in community support and over 350 community signatures showing support for the commissioners to put the library project on the ballot, the project also faced headwinds. Local projects competing for support, lingering questions from some about the utility of library in the age of the internet, and other concerns needed to be overcome prior to the public hearing that would determine whether the project would be allowed on the ballot. In the lead-up to the public hearing, which was held in April 2016, Bray received some pushback from key city and county individuals, who questioned the timing, validity, and wisdom of the project. However, after a two-hour public hearing with over 150 participants, which included several personal and emotional testimonials from citizens, the vote was unanimous to put the bond on the ballot for November 2016.6A Community-centric ArchitectureThe November 2016 elections were extraordinary in the United States, with political divisiveness at a fever pitch. Concern was high that the library bond would fail given the political climate in Montana. That concern proved unfounded: the library’s referendum passed with a 57 % approval, which meant design could recommence.The ballet language voted upon by the citizens was written with some specific language that affected the building design and budget, so the first step in relaunching the design process involved reconciling the scope and budget. A renewed estimate by DAC showed a shortfall in funds that would mean further reductions in the building’s size. Providing ample space for each partner’s public programming and internal meetings became a source of anxiety for all four partners. The design team created a program-mapping tool to assess real needs. The tool proved that even if each partner expanded programming beyond what it could project in 2016, the building could accommodate those needs.With the scope reconfirmed, design began in earnest. Building on the initial concept to root the building in its place, the design team fleshed out and strengthened the design concept. During “Missoula Immersion Week,” the design team also immersed themselves in the natural surroundings. They collected photos of elements that inspired them and that would be recognizable to community members in the region and sought ways to translate those materials into a building design. The natural surroundings are deeply meaningful to the community. MSR Design drew inspiration from the history of the place, from ancient glacial movements that left interesting scars to the more recent colonization, which left its own scars. Glacial activity and mountain skylines are referenced in the building’s form. A reflective cladding changes appearance in the light conditions rendered by the dynamic valley weather and seasonal wildfires.Fig. 6:“Sharing wheel” tool (Source: MSR Design)Energy modeling drove the building massing as well to maximize passive strategies for energy efficiency. Overhangs and skewed floor plates on upper levels reflect the natural surroundings and minimize heat gain.Designed to be visible from the city’s main arteries, the building stands tall on Main Street and retracts back as it opens towards the river, adjacent park, and residential area. This shifting scale bridges the urban and residential surroundings. Nearby Clark Fork River provides a major source of recreation with a walking path that extends the length of downtown. The design responds to the river and downtown through multiple entry points that facilitate easy access and offer weather cover for part of one’s journey elsewhere.The entire building was envisioned as a community living room. Vistas to the mountains provide opportunities to watch the biannual elk migration on Mount Jumbo. Designed to host community-centric gatherings such as the “First Fridays” art event, the building includes a full-service café and wide variety of space scales and types to support users’ myriad needs. Gender inclusive toilet rooms and multi-use comfort rooms (for prayer/mediation, lactation, taking medication, and a different sensory experience) support users’ well-being. Daylight, inspiring vistas, and space variety ensure all feel welcome and compel visitors to stay.The design team looked for a meaningful emotional tie to the design expression and materiality of the building. A somewhat less tangible aspect of designing for well-being relates to how comfortable people feel in a place. Does it resonate? Do they feel like they belong? Can they relate to it? This line of inquiry led the design team to model the interior materials palette and experience upon the metaphor of a mountain climb.Fig. 7:Exterior concept board (Source: MSR Design)The parking level expresses dark solidity of the base of the mountain. Level One is vibrant, active, and full of choices, relating to a trailhead with multiple choices. Its forms and colors reference the rocky valley floor. The Bitterroot – Montana’s state flower – inspired the pink accents on Level Two, which is dedicated to children and their caregivers. Level Three evokes the contemplative, solitary mossy path nearing the summit. The climb culminates in an ethereal experience as one reaches the top floor with a palette that evokes a cloud-cloaked mountain peak.Visually connecting the floors and acting as a wayfinding cue is the sculpted wood wall, the design of which is abstracted from the Missoula valley topographical map. The wood wall adds visual warmth, provides sound absorption, and serves as a backdrop to the main stair and a building core that houses the elevator and toilet rooms. The stair traverses the floors in a switchback, referencing a well-known hike on Mount Sentinel that is visible from the library. The stair design supports serendipitous opportunities to view and engage in activities on each floor.Spaces are intuitively organized from active to quiet areas on each floor. This arrangement mitigates acoustic conflicts. Large expanses of glass offer views into the activities inside the building, draw in ample daylight, and connect people inside to the city, the campus, and Mount Sentinel and Mount Jumbo – reinforcing the building’s place within its community. The building partners are dispersed throughout each floor of the building and fully integrated with the library’s services.Vibrant and active, Level One provides spaces where visitors can meet and interact, make things, and experiment with technology and media. This level is also home to Trapper Peak Coffee, which includes an outdoor patio for further connectivity to downtown Missoula. The marketplace zone includes displays of new books and media and a retail shop with offerings from each building partner available for purchase. The Library of Things includes essentials that increase equity in the community, such as assistive reading devices, life preservers, bike locks, kitchen gadgets, and wireless hotspots.Fig. 8:Exterior as viewed from intersection of Front Street and North Adams Street (Photo: Lara Swimmer)Expandable folding glass doors to the makerspace and National Institute of Health UM Living Lab on the main floor offer glimpses of hands-on learning activities, as well as accommodating larger programs. Youths have a special destination on this floor with the teens’ space that features analog and digital gaming technology and a prime spot for viewing all the comings and goings. The audiovisual production studio, sound booths, and editing suite supported by partner MCAT abut an equipment check-out area with tripods, cameras, and lighting equipment that can be checked out and used offsite to foster digital media literacy. Laptop lending is also located here, creating a vibrant tech-centric hub, complete with highly trained tech-savvy MCAT staff.An automated materials handling system which greatly improves the speed with which materials are checked in and sorted for reshelving complements a large workroom for library staff on this floor. This system frees up valuable staff time for other critical aspects of public service, especially important given the same number of staff operate the new building as did the original one, which was one-third the size.Fig. 9:Interior concept board (Source: MSR Design)Fig. 10:Level one, view through marketplace (Photo: Lara Swimmer)Level Two is dedicated to children and their caregivers, including areas that support well-being, movement, programs, arts, and crafts, and learning through creative play. It is home to the Harrington Children’s Library, Families First Learning Lab, and University of Montana’s spectrUM Discovery Area, which features interactive STEM-based exhibits. Daylight filled and organized by age group, Level Two has places to collaborate and play together, quiet nooks for reading alone, and study rooms for school-aged children. The Water Room (a collaboration between spectrUM, Families First Learning Lab, and Clark Fork Coalition) offers an exciting hands-on opportunity to learn about a critical regional concern: water scarcity and water quality. The full-scale DNA helix climbing structure helps children build large motor skills.Early literacy fixtures called Tiny Town are designed to allow the imagination to run free. Rather than prescribed play, the structures are designed for typologies, such as “service,” which could be a bank, grocer, post office, or hospital. MPL staff change supporting materials regularly to keep the fixtures fresh for children and caregivers. Located adjacent to the fixtures is the Imaginarium Storytelling space. The program room wall, which can be collapsed for larger programs, also extends space functionality when programs are not in session. Conveniently located toilet rooms and multi-use comfort room (for prayer/mediation, lactation, taking medication, and a different sensory experience) support children and caregivers.Building partner Families First Learning Lab (FFLL) has its home on this floor with a parenting collection co-curated by FFLL and MPL. FFLL’s suite of spaces includes private consultation rooms for counselors to work on-site with discreet public access. Classrooms dedicated to family counseling and programs round out a complement of spaces dedicated to strengthening the community’s social fabric.Level Three houses the adult collections, quiet study and reading spaces, fiction and nonfiction collections, reference services, and the local history collections. A teaching kitchen with a seed lending library and the library’s collection on cooking and nutrition supports learning in nutritional health. The room is designed for cooking demonstrations and recording, as well as for use as a study area, meeting room, or place to enjoy the mountains views. Providing a wide variety of seating and study spaces, Level Three provides areas where visitors can find quietness, whether in study nooks or enclosed bookable study rooms. The Montana Room, which contains genealogy resources and the library’s historical research collection, occupies a special corner of this floor. Level Three also contains a business center, with laptop lending, printers, business resources, and a collaboration pod. Public views to Mount Jumbo educate visitors about the elk migration that takes place each year.Fig. 11:Lounge on level two (Photo: Lara Swimmer)Fig. 12:Level three, teaching kitchen (Photo: Lara Swimmer)Fig. 13:Level four, lounge and pre-function space (Photo: Lara Swimmer)Level Four is devoted to public engagement and community gathering and hosts the flexible, state-of-the art event center and multipurpose meeting room. It boasts spectacular views to the mountains, beloved Clark Fork River, and city skyline. Arriving on this floor, visitors first encounter the pre-function space, which supports events, receptions, and gatherings and provides spectacular views to the north and south. A reception lounge offers convenient catering access and space for meetings or studying. Another lounge on the north side of the floor includes a staff service point, which doubles as a check-in area for events.The Blackfoot Board Room occupies a carefully selected corner of the building, with full height glass that makes one feel as though they are sitting in the mountains. The event center seats 300 people when the movable wall that creates two acoustically sound meeting rooms is tucked into the ceiling. This flexibility ensures that the new Missoula Public Library will support the community’s wide array of civic gathering, programming, and event needs.The south side of the floor offers access to an exterior patio – dedicated to Honore Bray and aptly named The Peoples’ Terrace – which gives all members of the public access to special vistas often reserved for those with means.7A Sustainable and Future-proof DesignEnsuring that the building is long-lasting, flexible, and sustainable was a primary project driver. The building relies on renewable energy sources, such as a mechanical system powered with hydrothermal energy and an extensive photovoltaics array to further offset energy use. Designed to meet United States Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED-NC Gold v.3 certification and American Institute of Architect’s 2030 Commitment criteria,https://www.aia.org/pages/6464938-the-aia-2030-commitment (November 25, 2022). the building achieves a 70 % energy reduction below the regional average baseline. The landscape consists of local plants that do not require irrigation. Additional water conservancy measures result in a 24 % reduction in use from the USGBC LEED v.4 baseline.Fig. 14:Level two, entry to spectrUM Discovery Area (Photo: Lara Swimmer)An underfloor air distribution system provides conditioned air to each floor. This system minimizes energy use and delivers fresh air at the user level, which is healthier for occupants than a traditional forced-air system. It has the added benefit of being quieter, as less force is required to push air around the building. The raised floor that houses the under-floor system also houses the electrical and data cabling, which provides the library with long-term flexibility as programmatic needs evolve.The design further conserves resources by deliberately minimizing the use of interior finishes to essential, performative, and beautiful surfaces to conserve natural resources – while also ensuring that what people touch and interact with is warm and inviting, such as the handrail of the stair or the sound-absorptive textiles on the study room walls. Limited exterior and interior material palettes minimize initial and long-term maintenance costs.The building provides spatial daylight autonomy on 86 % of the floor area (lighting is not required in 86 % of the building during daylight hours) with at least 30 fc for 50 %+ of the workday. To support well-being, every space – including staff spaces – has access to daylight and the spectacular views to nearby Mount Sentinel and Mount Jumbo.Each space was intentionally designed to be able to support multiple ways of engaging in dynamic learning and accommodate evolutions in services and offerings. The teaching kitchen supports cooking lessons, podcast recordings, quiet study, group study, and board meetings. The Living Lab doubles as a classroom and tinkering space. The production studio hosts workshops, music group rehearsals, recording skits and oral histories, local television broadcasts, and more. Program rooms are situated to allow for graceful overflow to expand capacity or extend use while not programmed. Staff spaces feature modular furnishings that support fluctuating staff size. Movable soundproof walls, sliding screens, collapsible walls, and flexible furnishings throughout the building support short-term flexibility and long-term adaptability.The building was right sized through the extensive programming measures focused on sharing spaces between building partners. Building partners share workrooms to avoid redundancies in project spaces, break rooms, and staff toilets. This arrangement supports long-term flexibility by not building multiples of these hard-to-move spaces.8Practicing the PartnershipEven before the building opened, the partners worked together to practice their partnership. spectrUM provided pop-up science exhibits in the library, which changed every six months. When FFLL encountered an issue with their space and MPL welcomed them into the existing library, FFLL contributed to MPL’s children’s story times and Tiny Tales series (a program time using sounds, rhythms, and movement to engage children with language).A particularly exciting initiative is Empower Place. Leveraging the timing of the Missoula Food Bank & Community Center building their new space in an underserved part of Missoula, Truit wrote a grant with spectrUM, MPL, and the food bank, and the city under Mayor John Engen’s leadership contributed funding to create additional space for a collaboration to feed bodies, minds, and community. The collaboration tested the project’s viability and developed policy. Empower Place is now fully operational and described as a collective impact effort that is “one part community center, one part science museum, one part food hub, and one part library.”https://www.empowerplace.org/ (November 25, 2022).Empower Place’s own staff runs the daily programming. The grant paid for furniture, a ball wall, and a refrigerator for snacks. The library provides materials for children from 0-teenage years. SpectrUM provides scientists and science experiences. Parents can shop at the food bank, while their children attend services within Empower Place. The space offers children and young adults a safe place where they can go after school to read, get help, find a mentor, or simply visit with friends. After school programs and tutoring are also offered.9The FutureMPL and its partners gained additional programming, extra staffing, additional people capital, and a new perspective on old ideas. Hosting many entities in one place offers the community a positive learning experience without changing venues. MPL’s building offers users hands-on exhibits and library collections. When users leave the building, their experience can continue with the materials they check out. The partnership allows MPL to offer multi-sensory learning for a more diverse and inclusive experience for all ages.The partnerships are thriving, and new partners have been added to the mix. Some live in the building and others visit for special events. The local food bank offers free breakfast and lunch to children in the summer. The university offers free after school tutoring and other opportunities for youth to engage with role models in higher education, among other social services that exist alongside library and museum programming.The GO bond and initial fundraising got the project off the ground. Now that the building is open, the MPL Foundation has attracted additional donations to add back a few aspects that had to be cut during the design process. All partners continue their individual fundraising to fund their staff, programs, and day-to-day expenses. Partners do not pay rent in the library (the GO bond does not allow that) in exchange for dropping their fees for regular services, providing the public with more services for their tax dollars. The partners pay their portion of heat, lights, garbage, and maintenance of the building. This fee is invoiced quarterly and figured by a pro-rata share of their space in the building.The Missoula Public Library partnering model has opened many new service avenues to MPL and its partners. Since the original MOUs were inked, two new partners have joined the mix. The University of Montana Living Lab inspires the next generation and creates on-ramps to higher education. The Living Lab is a collaboration between the City of Missoula, University of Montana, and Missoula Public Library and got seed funding through a Science Education Partnership Award funded by the National Institute of Health. MCAT also brought on a new partner, Missoula Community Radio, which is housed within MCAT’s space in the building and run by community members who produce their own shows. The organization seeks to encourage educational, socially just, culturally aware, and entertaining programming. This partnership provides more outreach through library and partner programs to the community.The Missoula Public Library cohabitation model demonstrates how partnering with others expands what is possible: deepening connections between community members and fostering a resilient, thriving community.
ABI-Technik – de Gruyter
Published: Feb 1, 2023
Keywords: partnerships; community; flexibility; Partnerschaft; Community-Orientierung; Flexibilität
Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.