A Light of Learning

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Knoxville Light wall

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | 9,800 SF

An engaging and educational light feature helps draw the community to a valuable resource.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's brutalist building is softened by the twinkling light wall facade.

This renovation transforms a 1962 Brutalist concrete masonry building into a warm and inviting library destination for a diverse, working class community. One of the project’s most distinguishing and engaging features is undoubtedly its interactive light wall.

Light wall fabrication inside the Ultra Low Res Studio.
Individually controlled LED's animate the facade.

The display is controlled by a computer in the library’s teen zone, where anyone can experiment with changing the pattern.

To amplify the presence of the library, we partnered with Ultra Low Res Studio to incorporate 700 individually controlled LEDs into 10 perforated façade screen panels that face the library’s Brownsville Avenue entrance. The twinkly light pattern is an engaging street presence—mesmerizing, but not obtrusive. The display is controlled by a computer in the library’s teen zone, where anyone can experiment with changing the pattern.

The programmable light wall is an interactive education tool anyone can have fun with and learn from.

The LEDs are attached to perforated panels made of Richlite, a resin infused paper that is durable and sustainable. Because the material is the same all the way through, it doesn’t require additional maintenance and surface damage can be easily sanded off. Light peeks through triangular perforations of the panels, which screen new windows while maintaining a sense of solidity from the library’s original design.

Exploded view of the light wall assembly

AIA Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence Design Award