BKSK Architects' library in New Jersey boosts retail business in local area by 15%

According to Jinny Baeckler, head librarian for Plainsboro, New Jersey, libraries have always done the same thing; gather together groups of people who are excited about what they are doing to share it with people who want to learn. According to Baeckler, BKSK Architects new Plainsboro Library has taken the traditional library building type, understanding its programming needs and its many layers, and translated these time-tested library functions into wonderful contemporary architecture.

BKSK has re-imagined traditional library elements, keeping their function, but changing their form, while visibly exposing the complexity and richness of the building from the entrance. The Library is technologically smart and energy efficient, making use of sustainable building materials and building systems whenever possible.

The building is predominantly made up of simple rectangular brick volumes arranged around an open glass enclosed atrium that provides a counterpoint to the Town Square outside and serves as an organising element for distinct individual spaces. While the main atrium recalls a traditional library reading room, the space is not sequestered or treated as a quiet sanctuary. Rather, it occupies the open transparent centre of the building, visible from outside and welcoming to all.

The Plainsboro Library opened in the spring of 2010 has since served as a vital agent in community building, bringing people together, and promoting civic and educational values in the town. At the same time, it has made a significant contribution to the commercial success of nearby businesses. Jinny Baeckler explains: "Since opening its doors, business is up about 15% in adjacent retail stores and average attendance for the library itself approaches 1,000 visitors each day, nearly 5% of all town residents."

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