The magazine of the American Library Association selected a Dennis Kowal Architects’ design for creating a lot of impact for the dollar. One of a handful of projects showcased in their Library Design Showcase 2012 for “Small Projects/Big Impact”, the new Plainfield Public Library children’s room is a first of its kind. The entire existing children’s library was re-invented by the Kowal Team from lighting to furniture to architecture (see our earlier blog on September 26, 2011).

Working closely with the Library Director, Assistant, and a Board Member with rainforest expertise, the Kowal Team shaped all of the existing liabilities into assets. A old reading pit that the Library assumed would be in-filled became a reading pond complete with a rope bridge and foliage. The mess of pipes concrete, and ductwork above the suspended ceilings that were assumed to remain neatly out of sight were instead exposed to create a lofty interior and painted to look like vines and the tree canopy. And the existing wide open and “boring” floor plan was enhanced with a series of intimate spaces. Thatched roof reading huts, a canvas teen tent, a reptile inspired computer counter wrapping around a bamboo forest, and a story room under a strangler fig tree define fun places to read without sacrificing sight lines and ease of supervision. Even the circulation desk is a compilation of custom made cargo boxes which feature sustainable wood construction.