Category: Institutions
Region: North America
Year: 1995
FT2 Construction: 240,035 sq ft
FT2 Ground: 0 sq ft
Involved Areas: Architecture, Interior Design

Ricardo Legorreta
Víctor Legorreta
Noé Castro
Miguel Almaraz
Gerardo Alonso
Adriana Olmedo

Associate Architects:

Arquitecto Ejecutivo Johnson - Dempsey & Assoc.
Arquitecto Asociado Davis Sprinkle & Robey Architects


General Contractor H.A. Loot, Inc.
Project Manager: 3d International
Structural Design Danish-Lundy-Pinnell
MEP Goetting & Assoc.


Lourdes Legorreta
Ma. Dolores Robles - Martínez 

1995 “Imagineer Award”granted by The Mind Science Foundation

Moving away from the stuffy image of ordinary library facilities, the City of San Antonio wanted a happy building, a building the community would celebrate as its own, and a building that housed state-of-the-art technology for information access. In a traditional sense, the challenge of this project was to achieve the best architecture integrated with the library functions and uses. Described by local critics as an ingenious blending of design and function, the new facility is being compared with the old library: both are places where books are kept. Books remain as a critical element in the new facility, but it has been designed with an appreciation for the other important elements in San Antonios library facility: architecture, art and technology. The capacity of the library has been doubled with 240,000 square feet with space for up to 750,000 books. The buildings geometry of rotated and cut away boxes was largely determined by the way that space needs happened to fit into the site so that people would see the library as friendly, easy and inviting building. The exterior is a visual wonderland of shapes, angles and openings that create interplay of light and shadows, both inside and outside the building. The area is distributed in seven stories, six of them above ground. The main mass is a 6 stories box surrounding a yellow sky lit atrium that serves as a focal point for each floor. Some terraces are accented by large geometric shapes. Triangular and rectangular baffle walls painted purple or yellow on the third-floor terraces create sculptural spaces and invite people to go outside. Another terrace in the west is bordered by a slightly raised acequia that drops into a circular pool. Beyond the acequia, stands a grove of palm trees. All the exterior walls were finished with acrylic plaster. At street level, a stone wainscot gives scale to the building. Blending natural light, shadow and geometric figures throughout the new library, a sense of mystery is created. The goal in this project was for visitors to discover something new at each visit, to entice them back again and again. In the design, we also wanted to evoke a sense of freedom, particularly freedom in the use of space. This was accomplished by having the library floors vary in size and shape to give each one a unique personality. The different shapes and sizes will lead the visitor to wonder around the building and its different spaces. Special features for children have been incorporated into the design. Architectural elements and child-size stacks are among the unique features of the third floor the childrens floor. Scaled down furnishings and abundant natural light places, make young people ease in an environment tailored just to their needs. The facility was also planned to accommodate the latest technology. The librarys new card catalog is on the cutting edge of computer technology, including a kids card catalog, Internet access, a search that allows access to libraries across the US, and Spanish card catalog.