Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty Studio Hive Earns AIA National Design Award

GBBN Architects has been awarded an American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2016 Small Project Award for the Studio Hive, which is a part of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty’s Teen Zone. 

As part of an ambitious capital project, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) is dedicated to providing opportunities in their libraries for teens to explore the worlds of literature and technology while connecting with others. GBBN was engaged to create the Teen Zone in CLP-East Liberty by transforming a space into places where teens are encouraged to discover their talents, learn new skills, and collaborate with peers and supportive mentors. 

A key feature of the Teen Zone is the Studio Hive, which is a space for teens to work on multi-media and digital productions. Based loosely on the form of a beehive, it provides an intentional personal space for teens to engage in creative exploration within a focused place for concentration. Even so, the design allows for subtle views into and out of the hive, facilitating a feeling of community and connection to others. GBBN Principal Anne Chen stated, “thoughtful design and meticulous fabrication of the Studio Hive ensured the views, lighting, acoustics, and form all worked in concert to create an encouraging environment for teens that evokes curiosity.” 

On this design, the AIA Small Projects jury noted that the Hive is “a graceful solution to a ubiquitous problem. The project is especially innovative in how it quantified the positive effects of design – which could benefit a myriad of future projects.” 

The Studio Hive is crafted of wood and sound absorbent industrial felt. The design team developed a 3-dimensional digital model of the Hive, which allowed designers to tune and refine the form to minimize material waste. This model was then shared with fabricators River Productions to collaborate on the further development of design details and structural form. Fabrication directly from the model eliminated the need for conventional construction documents saving time and eliminating costs. The fabricators fully installed the Hive in their studio as a mock-up, then disassembled it and permanently reinstalled the Hive at the fully operational and occupied library. 

Since initiating dedicated programming for teens, CLP has seen measureable successes such as a significant increase in teen attendance at programs and events as well as in general attendance. After the opening of the CLP-East Liberty Teen Zone, one teen patron exclaimed “the teen space is the single greatest thing to happen in the history of the library in America!” 

GBBN is honored to have been selected for this national citation for the Studio Hive. The AIA Small Project Awards Program, now in its 13th year, was established to recognize small-project practitioners across the country for the high quality of their work and to promote excellence in small-project design. This award program strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope. “With construction budgets regularly running into the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s important to emphasize the impact smaller projects can have,” said Jury Chair, Marika Snider, AIA. “As architects we strive to provide clients with more than just buildings, but solutions to improve life – these projects highlight this notion.”