Two Designers Walk into A Library…


GBBN Principal Amanda Markovic, AIA and Associate Sean Cottengim, AIA—two designers who frequently work on community libraries—travelled to Durham, North Carolina to participate in the Library Journal Design Institute. Joined by other designers and representatives from multiple library systems, they spent a couple of days discussing the design issues that libraries often face.

Amanda and Sean participated in wide-ranging panel discussions that covered big questions in library design—designing for flexibility and changing community needs, community engagement and the discovery process, equity, accessibility, and sustainability.

They also took a deep dive into the design needs of a specific library. In a breakout session with the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL), Amanda and Sean helped library representatives investigate the question of if and how AADL’s popular, but geographically bounded Downtown Library location could be redesigned to accommodate additional uses, like housing, a museum, or a performing arts venue.

The team used three theoretical personas—a frequent library user, an occasional visitor, and a resident of the new building—to help surface concerns and sketch out possible design solutions for the new space. Learn more about the breakout session here.

“It’s a natural partnership,” Sean reflected after the experience. Reflecting on the experience, Sean observed. “We like working with librarians because both of our fields involve being curious about many things. We see eye to eye despite our different skill sets.”

Learn more about this year’s Library Journal Design Institute here.

Amanda regularly shares here insights about library design. You can read her work in Library Journal, BD+C, and on our homepage.