Palmetto Library

Houser Walker Architecture
1819 Peachtree Rd NE Suite 102
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
(404) 633-4264
Gregory Walker

Project Location: 9111 Cascade Palmetto Hwy, Palmetto, GA
Completion Date: 12/15/2014
Owner: Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System

Builder: New South Construction

Builder Address: (404) 443-4000

Architects Involved:
Gregory Walker - Partner in Charge, Houser Walker Architecture
David Esterline - Project Architect

Engineers Involved:
Sykes Consulting Engineers (Structural) -
Johnson Spellman Associates (MEPFP, Energy Modeling, Commissioning)
The Jaeger Group (Landscape Architecture)
ACES Engineering (Civil Engineering) - since closed the business
TSAV (AV and IT Consulting)

Project Description

The Palmetto Library is a new, $3.5M facility serving the communities of Palmetto and Chattahoochee Hills in South Fulton County. At 11,000sf, the facility will deliver much needed public library services to a largely rural but developing region of Georgia.

Our design for the library takes inspiration from local vernacular structures and, in particular,
a nearby large agricultural barn that marked a key intersection. We were inspired by the barn’s presence in the landscape, it’s interior volume, and material presence. As we began considering our design and its response to the local terrain and climate, we saw the barn as a befitting formal prototype.

In response to the program needs, we took the volumetric profile of the existing structure and sliced it into quarters, with each section containing one portion of the full program. Through a subsequent series of adjustments to its volume, views, winds, and daylight, each “box” was adjusted, rotated, and openings inserted. Filling the space between the “boxes” are a sky-lit entry sequence and building services. The resulting composition recalls the profile of the barn while transforming it into a more public presence.

Each ‘box’ contains a portion of the overall program. The adult and children’s resource areas will act as large reading rooms, with ceilings soaring to 18+ feet and carefully controlled natural light filtering through the space. A community meeting room occupies one ‘box’ and the back of house staff workplaces another.

Exterior materials include a composite wood siding rain screen, zinc roofing, corrugated cor-ten steel, and siding to recall the original barn. At the exterior, each ‘box’ is rendered in aa slightly different color and paired with a different regional wood at the interior. The interior woods included reclaimed heart pine, walnut, cherry, and eastern maple.

Finally, our overall site strategy hinged on creating “place” out of a largely desolate, relatively flat 4 acre tract. We chose to tie the building together to the required parking through the creation of a planted grove, with native white oak trees planted on a 30′ grid throughout. A formal planted garden of native flowering species to encourage local pollinators and that provides outdoor seating spaces is adjacent to the entry. A required detention pond was vegetated to provide a visual amenity. The remainder was left to become a native tall grass field, with a local artist commissioned to provide a sculpture in the field.

The structure is certified LEED Silver and opened in late 2014.