Known for its unique mixture of spaces and materials, the Libbie Mill Library is a state-of-the-art gathering place for families as well as the center for public learning in the Near West End of Richmond.
The space, a branch of Henrico County Public Library, combines aspects of both library and community center. The flow and separations of the various parts of the building allow for special use areas catering to different kinds of readers. Each area has its own specific characteristics that complement each other while incorporating a magnitude of different textures, materials, and shapes throughout.
“Within the library, a wide array of functional, beautiful design ideas come to life.”
Complex variations in building structures and ceilings required considerable effort to ensure that the end product was flawless. As one walks through the building, it’s clear how much attention everyone involved spent on detail. The coordination and meshing of each different trade to create such an elaborate space is quite complex. But Gulf Seaboard thrived on the project’s complexity, we were able to put together a very highly capable and quality group of subcontractors that executed our high standards of quality.
In concert with Gulf Seaboard, the group of subcontractors were able to successfully overcome the challenges of needing to make sure each wire, pipe, and cable was organized in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing while remaining functional. The architects highlighted the ceiling work we did by finding unique pendants and lighting fixtures that throw just the right amount of light for that specific part of the building, which made our meticulousness that much more important.
Construction and design concerns catered to each individual area of the building, such as the children’s area where we constructed pods with softly padded walls that provide islands of both quiet and comfort. This allows for a safe but useable space for children to be able to play and be hands-on in their learning.
Unique details are everywhere you look in Libbie Mill Library—asymmetrical folded ceiling panels, a textured wall finish designed to look like crumpled paper, glass railings, skylights, vaulted ceilings, and even a quiet room that’s built to look as if it’s hovering in midair. Even on its own, the unusual dimensions of the space make it an interesting job, but the shift of design and materials from room to room added another dimension entirely.
Area to area, you’ll find wood paneling, finished concrete, and unique blackened steel panels that all fit together nicely for a modern yet comfortable feel. These details are visually pleasing to the average visitor’s eye, but the amount of work and expertise that goes into such a look is pretty monumental.
Just as with the interior, the exterior was a rather particular construction style not in itself common to that part of town but one that needed to still resemble that area’s master plan.
The primary aspect of the building façade is a window wall system that allows for a tremendous amount of natural light into the building, which also features a terra cotta wall paneling system. The use of both of the systems in conjunction with the color scheme allows for the building to be the focal point of the developing community. Its three floors help it stand out without overwhelming the rest of the neighborhood, both fitting in while having its own character, just as you’d want a library or community center to do.
One of the challenges of the project being the focal point of the community was that the development of the area was projected to grow after the library was in place. Working with the property developer brought a deeper level of complexity, as the site’s infrastructure was being established around the building throughout construction. Gulf Seaboard was able to coordinate and sequence construction to keep outside improvements accessible to allow access for the developer as well as private and public utilities. These efforts allowed for the developer successfully construct nearby complementary buildings and facilities.
Gulf Seaboard is proud to add Libbie Mill Library to our portfolio—not just because of the stunning results, but because it demonstrated just how much skill it takes to juggle subcontractors, architects, and deadlines. We hope that the community will enjoy it for decades to come.