Blind, But Not Unseen

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians

To Project Types

Pittsburgh, PA | 11,700 SF

Hidden away inside a time-worn, former Studebaker factory and showroom on Pittsburgh’s “Automotive Row,” a valuable community resource gets an amplified street presence.
Light and activity shine out of the windows of a newly-renovated building. Bold red tile marks a recessed, corner entrance. The bold red of the recessed entrance continues along an inside wall to help orient to partially-sighted.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians (CLP LAMP) is immensely valuable to its community of users. Many who initially come for the library’s services end up volunteering their time to assist in the production of audiobooks for distribution across Pennsylvania, or to help others make use of its resources. As a result, many view it as a second home.

 

A bank of deep milled-wood booths occupy run along the exterior wall and a bold, red wall with braille supergraphics runs along the facing wall. Between there are tables, chairs, and computers. Books line the back wall. Natural light and bold colors assist with wayfinding.

Developed in conversation with CLP LAMP’s visually impaired and physically disabled users, our design makes that home more comfortable and easier to use while making its value clearer to the larger public. Formerly bricked over windows now hold insulated glass that maintain the building’s character while dampening street noise (for audiobook users). Playful, braille supergraphics on the windows spell out the library’s focus for the larger public.

Woman in the foreground runs a soundboard to record a volunteer who reads a book aloud. Volunteers and staff produce audio recordings of requested materials on the studio space.
Dark grey, textured flooring marks the walkway and sinks within the bathroom. Dark grey, textured flooring marks the walkway and sinks within the bathroom.

...our design makes that home more comfortable and easier to use while making its value clearer to the larger public.

Moved from midblock to the corner, a recessed entry creates a sheltered place to pause before stepping onto the narrow sidewalks that border the busy street; the bold red that marks the entry also marks perimeters within to help guide partially-sighted patrons and library volunteers through the building’s public zones. Tactile measures—textured paving at the entrance, woven flooring that differentiations navigational pathways from the library’s seating area—reinforce this wayfinding strategy.

A row of deep booths along a wall of windows are occupied by several patrons. A service animal sits below one of the middle tables. Deep booths with cantilevered tables make room for patrons to spread out and work while service animals find room below.

The interior aesthetic is simple. Removing visual clutter, the renovation exposes the elegant, board-formed concrete structure underneath. We’ve also inserted roomy, milled-wood booths to soften and warm the largely concrete space while providing plenty of room to accommodate patrons’ service animals and wheelchairs.

Milled wood booths provide a comfortable place to read, work, or talk with friends.