High School Library Conversion from Music Facility

Leigh High School was originally constructed in the late 1950s. This building previously served as the site’s music / choir facility. A new music facility allowed this building to be utilized for other purposes.

This project is an example of Bartos Architecture's surgical approach to facility conversion and upgrades. Based on a master plan developed by Bartos Architecture in collaboration with the School site and District administration, this building was designated as a library to replace the existing and dilapidated original library. Bartos Architecture believes that one of the most sustainable approaches to school facilities is to retain and revitalize existing facilities, before demolishing and building new. This approach requires a different Architect's "Ego" and allowing the building itself to give us answers for what it should be. Instead of imposing the architects ego on an empty site, we let the building and the clients needs lead us to the best answers.

The intent of the project was to respect the existing 1950’s mid-century modern vernacular (originally designed by CSS Architecture) – while being current and contemporary. Instead of demolishing the existing music facility, it was converted into an updated, modern 21st century school library | resource center.

The librarian's work space and check out counter is centrally located with windows so that from one location, one staff member can observe the entire library. Yet the design does not make the students feel as if they are under scrutiny. The student lounge / study area is adjacent to the library office with visual connection between them. Glass walls with sliding doors provide quiet zones for three group study spaces. To the north and south are large "reading rooms" situated so that separate group instruction / meetings can occur when appropriate or needed.

The project constraints included shear walls that had to be persevered in both directions. Working within the confines and constraints of the existing shear walls created difficulties - yet offered "clues" as to how to arrange the overall design.

Our goal was to have a cafe type environment, with a small kitchenette. We often suggest innovations to our school district clients -- but due to other administrative constraints sometimes our innovative ideas aren't possible. But we keep trying and will always make our suggestions.