Kirkwood Public Library, Wilmington, DE, designed by ikon.5 architects, Princeton, NJ. has won its fourth design award in three years. American Builders Quarterly has named Kirkwood Public Library the Project of the Year. The editors said, "This project exemplified the type of perseverance required for excellence in the building industry: its formation was a study in overcoming obstacles. From its unappealing location next to a busy highway to the cost of long-lasting materials ... the Kirkwood Public Library was a challenge-but one that ikon.5 architects and the project team met head on. In addition to its imaginative design, the library offers a lesson in persistence and has thus earned the Project of the Year honor."

The library is located in Wilmington, DE along a busy commercial highway. Strip malls, big-box retailers, and billboards line the highway but ikon.5's response was to confront the commercial aspect of the road with a building that resembles a collection of books stacked along the highway. The building's design was intended to be a billboard to announce the library inside.

A tight budget and high expectations from the owner led to a design that evolved from meetings every two weeks. New Castle County wanted a building that would last 100 years but those materials are expensive. Eventually the designers chose cement fiber board that is economical, long-lasting and allowed for a creative solution.

Other important issues had to be considered. "Libraries today are public gathering places with a lot of technology so we kept the interiors open with few partitions for future flexibility," said Joe Tattoni, ikon.5 principal. The building includes several sustainable qualities. A sun screen reduces solar gain in the two-story reading room and there are enough windows to offer daylight so artificial lights are not needed during the day.

In addition to the Building Excellence Award, the library has won three other awards: 2010 International Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies; Delaware AIA Honor Award, 2010; and New Jersey AIA Honor Award, 2009.

Ikon.5 architects have designed three libraries in New Castle County, DE. Hockessin Public Library, Kirkwood Public Library, and Brandywine One Hundred Public Library. Hockessin has been awarded the prestigious American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum.

Ikon.5 architects are known for their award-winning designs for museums, higher education, libraries, performing arts, and corporate offices. Their national practice is based in Princeton, NJ and extends from Louisiana to Arizona from New York to Delaware.


Rebecca Lee
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