Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh / Teen Zones


Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has developed robust programs for teens that center around digital exploration and production, but also recognize the casual and collaborative interactions that surround these activities. As part of an ambitious capital project that includes the improvement of the main facility and the 18 branch locations, the Library has committed to providing recognizable space for teens. A generous donation from the Cindy and Murry Gerber Foundation provided funding support not only for program operations, but also for the design of teen spaces in several branch locations. GBBN was engaged to transform the spaces in the East Liberty and Knoxville branches into places that teens feel comfortable creating, collaborating, and learning.

The design solution included the creation of three distinct spaces, the Living Room; the Collaboration space; and the Studio, which encourages different levels of interaction and activity from the most casual to the most intense. The range of activity in these distinct areas recognizes that the creative process requires varying levels of engagement. These spaces are present in both branches’ designs, with a screen framework defining the Studio, the most intensive creative space. The screen framework originated as an abstract ‘beehive’ form at the East Liberty branch and then the ‘beehive’ is unwound and straightened at the Knoxville branch, defining one side of the Studio, but taking on a shape that makes use of the phenomenon of parallax.

Since initiating targeted teen programming, the Library has seen measureable successes such as a recorded 350% increase in teens attending programs and events as well as a significant increase of general attendance. After the opening of the East Liberty space, one teen patron exclaimed “the teen space is the single greatest thing to happen in the history of the library in America!” Knoxville is currently under construction and is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2016.