The design of the Agave Library for the City of Phoenix addresses issues of excellence and affordability in sustainable design and architectural signage. The library’s design, construction and material pallet is impacted by the tenants and design of a nearby planned retail center in north Phoenix. In the tradition of businesses of fledgling western frontier towns, whose dignified, yet paper-thin street facades belie their utilitarian construction, the Library’s ‘false front’ mediates between its two realities: one of a limited budget, the other of the civic presence expected in a public institution. With its torquing false metal scrim curving along the site’s eastern face, the Library’s ‘cowboy front’ gives scale, presence, and distinction commensurate with it position in the community. Constructed in the tradition of the old lathe houses of Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden using off-the-shelf galvanized hat channels, the scale and form of the scrim also recalls the tradition of drive-in movie theaters so common across Post-War American suburbs.
Working with Richard Jensen & Chris Balzano at Will Bruder + Partners, Ltd., ASI helped engineer, fabricate and install an interior and exterior signage program that would complement the environment and guide visitors to their desired destination. The custom interior signage solution includes hydro-cut etched/anodized aluminum panels illuminated with neon. The suspended signs use vibrant reds, blues, yellows and greens to draw the attention of library patrons to important destinations such as the check out desk, elevators and restrooms and audio/visual centers. The building’s “false front” came to life with the installation of a 90’-L x 25’-h reflective film installation. An installation that required over 600’ of film and 8 days to install. Due to the temperature of the steel during the Arizona summer, the film installation had to take place in the dark of night, with mobile spot lights providing light for workers. This completed installation truly became more than a sign but a sculptural work of art in the public realm.
To read more about the Agave Library project and to see more images, please click this link.