Missoula Public Library

A hub of teaching, learning,
and sense making

Missoula
Public Library

ARCHITECTURE   |   INTERIORS

A&E partnered with MSR to create a collaborative vision for the Missoula Public Library. The original 1970’s building no longer satisfied the technology and public resource needs of residents in Missoula and the surrounding area. In order to design a new library reflective of its evolving role within the community, the building brings together a wide range of public and private entities to offer various education, technology, resource, entertainment, and archival amenities. Each detail was thoughtfully selected to reflect Missoula’s unique landscape and culture, resulting in a dynamic concept for an enduring community landmark.

Missoula Public Library

A hub of teaching, learning, and sense making

ARCHITECTURE
INTERIORS

A&E partnered with MSR to create a collaborative vision for the Missoula Public Library. The original 1970’s building no longer satisfied the technology and public resource needs of residents in Missoula and the surrounding area. In order to design a new library reflective of its evolving role within the community, the building brings together a wide range of public and private entities to offer various education, technology, resource, entertainment, and archival amenities. Each detail was thoughtfully selected to reflect Missoula’s unique landscape and culture, resulting in a dynamic concept for an enduring community landmark.

Organic Inspiration

Inspired by the area’s natural surroundings, the design reflects local geographic characteristics, emphasizing the linear landscape, jagged mountain skyline, and curved valley edges, while the “shimmering façade” responds to low hanging Missoula Valley fog, the changing seasons, and even fish scales. To connect the interior with the surrounding landscape, abundant windows showcase the neighboring Clark Fork River, while a roof-top deck provides an indoor/outdoor experience.

A European approach
in a Montana context

The design incorporates space for three other prominent community partners: Families First / Children’s Museum of Missoula, Missoula Community Media Resource (MCAT), and spectrum Discovery Area, the University of Montana’s science center. After learning from a European model – public and private entities sharing resources within a public facility – it will become one of the first buildings to accomplish this in the United States.

An immersive community endeavor

The design team led an extensive pre-bond outreach campaign to garner support and adequate funding for the project, including community engagement, communication facilitation, marketing efforts, and fundraising support. While the vast undertaking resulted in a landslide vote, the design team continued to collaborate with the community throughout programming and conceptual design phases to establish project goals and guiding principles based on numerous public input sessions.

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