Archive for April 2014

Look mom, no lights!   1 comment

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Look mom, no lights!

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Despite the heavy rain outside, this interior is brightened by natural light transmitted through the translucent roof.

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Can you believe a reading room designed for a hundred people that doesn’t need a single light bulb!   Well, almost.

Natural daylight is used to flood the entire 12,000 square foot reading room of the Franklin Public Library.  Although lights are provided for the evening, overhead lighting isn’t  really required in the daytime; even when it is cloudy or raining.  The curved translucent roof amplifies the ambient light on a dark cloudy day and replaces the gloominess with happiness.

LEED AP, Dennis J. Kowal AIA, designed the first library ever that uses 100% natural light for both the circulation area and main reading room.   “We wanted patrons to feel uplifted and relaxed by the natural light washing over them” while providing an exposed structural system that is starkly revealed by the backlit roof.

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Dennis Kowal Architects also designed a place for donors to display hand made tiles of historical events that occurred in the Township.  Helping their clients raise funds for a project is a common benefit of working with the firm.  Dennis read his design book “Doorknobs” to children at the library to raise awareness of the renovation and sponsored a design competition for a custom tile.  DKA also donated a butterfly bench sculpture for the indoor butterfly garden to the delight of library supporters.

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Donor Wall designed by DKA includes a tile designed by a child who won the DKA library design competition!
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Would you like to see more neat stuff?    Click on the categories box at the left of this article and you can explore the visual world around you.  Learn how you can date a building by the nails used in construction or why there is a rain forest in New Jersey.

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Posted April 11, 2014 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Children Spaces, Library

National Association recognizes Kowal Design   2 comments

National Association recognizes Kowal Design

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.

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Table tops and walls featured scenes from the rainforest.

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A rope bridge spans this 15’ reading pond that is a favorite of all who enter.

BEFORE photo with low ceilings and and overcrowded circulation desk.

AFTER photo with exposed concrete waffle slab construction and sinuous piping transformed into the forest canopy.

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Once again, Dennis Kowal Architects prove you can stretch your dollars when you are willing to stretch your imagination. Critics apparently agree. One impressed patron was overheard saying “I used to drag my children to the library, now my kids drag me!” The Dennis Kowal Architects design was also featured in the October 2011 issue of Library Journal and noted as “New Jersey children are wild about the rain forest-themed children’s library!”

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Unrelated advertisement below;  Please leave a comment about this blog in the comment box below the advertisement or click on more stories from the category list at the upper left top of this blog.

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