From Ghost Retail to Next Generation Library

Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, Deer Park Library

To Project Types

Cincinnati, OH | 24,600 SF

An abandoned storefront is transformed into a vibrant community magnet
Bright pops of color and a mix of soft and hard furniture are invitations to hang out in the kid zone. We created custom designed acoustic ceiling baffles that provide interest and dampen sound.

The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library lets minds of all kinds learn without limits, but their existing space was constraining the kinds of programming they wanted to bring to this diverse community. We worked with library leadership and neighborhood residents to transform an abandoned TJ Maxx store in a shopping center into a library that is an accessible, vibrant, and inviting hub for people of all ages, interests, and backgrounds to learn, explore, and create.

From retail ghost... Next Generation Library. The striking blue color and aluminum tubes on the facade make the new library highly visible from the street.

The new library is five times larger and organized around a central zone dubbed “The Marketplace.” Open and flexible, The Marketplace encourages mingling, lounging, and discovery. The former store’s large floor plate presented an opportunity to carve out distinct zones for different age groups and activities—including quiet spaces, flexible study pods, a community meeting room, and space to be creative and make a mess

The library is organized around the Marketplace - a central zone near the entrance that encourages mingling, lounging, and discovery. From here patrons can see all the library's offerings, from computer workstations to quiet study pods to spaces to be creative and make a mess.
Artboard 1

The Community let us know we needed a modern, expanded library, a place to connect, create, and collaborate and we are truly pleased with how this renovation and expansion turned out.

Artboard 1 copy
- Diane Cunningham Redden, CHPL Board of Trustees President
A nook for some quiet time with a book

Using a combination of mobile furniture and study pods to denote different zones, a wide variety of activities can happen concurrently, and the space can be reconfigured as the needs of the library, and the community, change. New windows in the façade and the roof bring in abundant daylight, while curved interior walls break up the space, and encourage discovery.

Big new windows brighten up a formerly dark retail store and bring ample daylight into the library.
Study pods like these are acoustically private, but their transparency keeps people connected to the larger space. The structures also help create boundaries between different zones.
Not just for books, the Deer Park Library renovation has room for studying, working, and discovering, making it an ideal "third place" to go between school and home.

Big-box retail is everywhere, but as the retail experience evolves, there are opportunities to bring new life and purpose to the increasing number of vacant “ghost stores” in our communities.