Library Spotlight - Inside the Lumpkin County Library
I design projects from a vast range of commercial sectors but one of my absolute favorites is Library design. What these new and/or improved spaces give back to their communities is something so very exceptional to be a part of. So when all of the work is complete and the problems have been solved, and the construction is finished and the building has been photographed in those quiet moments before the doors open to the public for the very first time, I like to walk around in the sacred silence surrounded by all those books and just bask in the newness. It's one of the MANY perks of my job. And while I can't take everyone inside with me to enjoy that quiet radiance, I can show you some of the details and discuss how this new community treasure came to be. Nestled at the beautiful and cozy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the local Library for the inhabitants of Lumpkin County in the state of Georgia. The design team on this project consisted of some of the most hardworking and devoted individuals I've ever had the opportunity to work with. In the next few paragraphs, I want to take you through the proposed problems, solutions and secrets of the design process for the Lumpkin County Library. And I've even posted a few great images from our photographer as well as some of the before shots. So read on to learn how the Lumpkin County Library came to life.
INSIDE THE CHALLENGES
Every new design project has it's challenges. If they didn't, you wouldn't need a design team. This one involved several needs that had to be met head-on. The biggest challenge was a significant space deficit. While the original building consisted of two floors, the lower floor was really just a basement that was seldom ever open to patrons and was mostly just storage and a meeting room. The usable space was all on the main level in an old building settled between the local government buildings. The parking wasn't all that great and was wrapped around a circle that encased all of these government buildings. The Library just didn't have its own designated space. Other issues included a very dated appearance with heavily-worn furniture and undersized Children's and Genealogy areas.
INSIDE THE DESIGN PROCESS
Vivre Interiors (my commercial design firm for those who are unaware) was brought in after the initial team was selected. This consisted of the Lumpkin County Board members, the Architect (Bachman & Associates) and the Contractor (Charles Black Construction). Once the dust had settled a bit and the building plans were complete, they quickly realized that an Interior Designer experienced in Library design was most necessary. I already knew I wanted to work with the Library Director for this project (Leslie Clark) and was thrilled to find out she and her team wanted to work with me as well. So we began the daunting task of putting together a Library.
The process as a whole is typical. I follow the same order that I do in every project to keep everyone on task and to keep everything moving flawlessly. But the differences happen when you get to the heart of each project. For this one, I got to work closely with the Library Board members and most specifically the Library Director (Leslie) to get a feel for the direction we wanted to take the design. First on the list was incorporating a strong sense of the local community flavor and the rich history that this gold-mining town has to offer. If you've ever heard of the Dahlonega Gold Rush, you'll understand some of that history. If not, read here for more information. There are some really interesting facts on this local site. Other issues to consider took us through shelving discussions, color palettes, materials and textures as well as maintaining some of the donated gifts from patrons through the years while incorporating them into the new design concept. With all of those discussions out in the open, the only thing left to do was find the solutions.
INSIDE THE SOLUTION
In order to create a Library that made the most sense for Lumpkin County residents, meant brining in a very natural almost organic feel to the space. This building is surrounded by trees and mountains. You can see beautiful views of the trees just outside the windows. We selected a carpet with a very organic look to it that had a single gold vein running through it's gray undertones as a nod to the gold mining history that is deeply-ingrained into this community. Our color palette consisted of gold, soft green, cool gray blue and burnt terra cotta built on a foundation of gray carpet and neutral taupe walls. While this Library is not a heavily traditional building, it does maintain some traditional elements in the heavier stark white trim work around the columns and doors as well as tall heavy wood doors throughout.
We intricately wove in some light textures in our wallcoverings and end caps for the shelves. The wood grain on the shelving units is really just plastic laminate to keep things durable but the appearance gives them a unique and grounding effect to the rooms. To open up the Children's areas, we brought in some very fun furniture with wood-molded chairs that have fun animal shapes laser-cut into the tops along with playful white stackable stools with pops of orang on the seats. The Local History and Genealogy room is super important for a community like this one and so we maximized the increase of space to include the best possible furniture layout for patrons who are serious about their research. This process underwent several re-draws of the furniture plan to make absolutely sure we got exactly what they needed. (CLICK ON GALLERY BELOW FOR MORE IMAGES OR VISIT THE MAIN GALLERY HERE TO VIEW MORE)
INSIDE THE MURAL
The Friends of the Library wanted to meet with us to discuss a mural they wanted installed in the Children's area of the Library. They had raised special funds for this and it was obviously very important to them. So we spent a large chunk of time on this part of the design process. We met several times and hired design teams BCA Hospitality out of Atlanta and JVA Art Group out of San Diego, California to put it all together. They did an excellent job by the way. I highly recommend both of them! No one wanted a cartoon-like mural at all. But instead everyone voted on a more life-like mural of the natural surroundings that had hidden "clues" children could search for in the mural that would also teach them a bit of the history of Lumpkin County and Dahlonega simultaneously. So in this mural you will find things like the gold mine shaft, the diving bell, local birds and other animals, musical instruments, University of North Georgia college paraphernalia, local Native American historical images and so much more. This piece was truly the icing on the cake. Everyone did such an excellent job.
Lumpkin County is so full of a rich and colorful history. It seemed like the only natural choice was to make sure the local Library contained elements of it. So working with an amazing team we achieved this most beautiful building with it's very open floor plan and spacious design. The finishes contain the local color scheme of the outdoors with it's blues, greens, golds and terra cotta. This Library certainly gives back to it's community and it was such a pleasure to be a part of that.