1999 NCPPP Project Award Winner
Project Location: Dallas, Texas
Public Sector Partner: Dallas Public Library
Contact Name: Gail Bialas, 214.670.7808
Private Sector Partner: Kroger Company
Although libraries are often located in commercial areas near shopping centers, the Oak Lawn Library project marks the first time that a Dallas Library has been constructed, sharing a parking lot with a commercial entity. But more than shared parking, the Library and Kroger have succeeded in making their services more accessible to the population they serve. A trip to the Library and to the grocery store are now easily combined. The Library and Kroger have been good neighbors to one another, sharing services with their mutual customers.
The Oak Lawn Library occupies one corner of a strip shopping center, next to a supermarket and a vast parking lot. Their challenge was to give the library a civic identity in anonymous surroundings, which they did by designing a formal public entrance, complete with columns and potico, then making the long street façade a store window advertising books and ideas.
After a year of negotiation, the City of Dallas and the Kroger Company entered into a development agreement which, in return for the construction of a new 12,900 square foot branch library to replace an existing 11,000 square foot building, allowed the Kroger Company to construct a new grocery store on property owned by Kroger and a joint-use parking lot on adjacent Library and Kroger property. In return for the joint parking, Kroger designed and constructed a new Library, including site preparation, parking, lighting and landscaping and contributed $175,000 for a temporary facility to operate Library services during the construction period. Once the agreement was signed, the Library found a temporary facility and moved into a nearby storefront for the period of time it would take to construct the new building.
Kroger paid for the architect’s design of the building. The architect worked with library staff, incorporating the elements of contemporary library service with community expectations for the Library. The Library’s location was moved closer to the corner to give it more street visibility and an entrance facing out onto a main thoroughfare. It was imperative that the design reflect the community’s diversity by being accessible to children, the elderly and those with physical disabilities. The design included windows which flooded the building with light and made the building attractive to those walking and driving by it. Special lighting enhanced reading and computer use. The design was so successful that the building was recipient of the Texas Society of Architects 1998 Design award.
The shared parking arrangement benefits the Library and Kroger. The grocery store attracts library users and vice versa. The Library’s use has increased considerably. Usage climbed from 112,141 people in fiscal year 1995-96 to 192,104 in fiscal year 1997-98, an increase of almost 80,000 people in a two-year period. Having the Library and the grocery store in close proximity made the Library a part of the neighborhood’s traffic pattern, providing more visibility and convenience to its patrons.