Belmar Library Renovation

Jefferson County Belmar Public Library entrance

Belmar Library Renovation

Public Library Renovation that Supports Inclusivity, Lifelong Learning, and Sustainability

In need of updates and modernization, Jefferson County Public Library turned to HDR to renovate their Belmar branch in Lakewood, Colorado. The existing Belmar Library, complete in 2000, was a truly unique structure from both the outside and in plan. Designed as an open book metaphor through expressive curved roof form, the library was due for an upgrade to meet the evolving needs of its patrons and staff.

HDR’s previously developed master plan for the Belmar Public Library identified the need to renovate the site and building systems to address deferred maintenance and life cycle needs; makeover of the interior to update the library service model; and evaluate the feasibility of significant building expansion to enhance capacity. Both renovation only and renovation with addition were investigated and programs were developed for both; however, it was determined that by reorganizing the floor plan and departments, relocating the entry and restrooms, an addition would not be necessary to achieve the project goals.

In order to create a library experience that is unique to the Lakewood community, our team garnered input and engagement through small group community meetings, staff meetings, and online surveys — allowing each participant a voice and hand in shaping the design. The results from each engagement were then compiled and synthesized to reveal overall pain points and opportunities to drive ideation in concept design. After immersing the community in the current state and getting them to align upon priorities for the project, the team pivoted the discussion to imaginative thinking and dreaming about the future state.

From the community sessions, the guiding principles for the project became clear. The new library needed to promote the following:

  • Welcoming Atmosphere
  • Convenience Factor
  • Connection to Adjacent Park and Outdoors
  • Safety and Security
  • Inclusivity
  • Promote Lifelong Learning
  • Suitability and Resilience
  • Enhanced Wayfinding and Organization

Backed by the community and the defined guiding principles, the new direction for the Belmar Public Library builds upon the strong visual open book metaphor of the original building while enhancing and fine-tuning it with a new service model to meet current community expectations and desires. The reconfigured floor plan ushers patrons directly from the main entrance to the main service desk — the nexus of the interior crossroads of the library. From this point, patrons can easily access the entire range of public spaces and innovative library services.

The new layout reconfigures quieter areas and more active functions separately with dedicated zones for quiet study, collaboration, reading, as well as areas for youth and children. Approximately 200 additional square feet of usable space was added with the reconfiguration. In the spirit of openness, the book drop and sorting equipment operation is partly visible from the outside for curious kids and adults — further promoting Belmar Library’s guiding principles encouraging lifelong learning and curiosity.

The previously underutilized plaza at the main entrance, uneven pavement, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and vehicle traffic, as well as building exits that did not meet ADA compliance were all reimagined by the design team.  Inspired by the Dutch concept of a “woonerf” or “living street,” the site is activated with a variety of seating options, pedestrian only zones, with various paving materials, colors, tones and textures to calm traffic and alert drivers to pedestrians. A striking red awning marks the relocated entry — inviting patrons in and providing shelter for those passing through. 

Wellness and sustainability were guiding principles established by the stakeholders, and while no official certifications were pursued, the design team implemented our sustainable design standards and tracked the project to comply with the AIA 2030 challenge.

  • Provided daylight modeling and increased daylight to meet LEED Gold standards with the addition of a 180-foot Kalwall clerestory and tubular skylights in the staff area, mitigated glair with biophilic patterned film and automatic shades
  • Converted all light fixtures to LED with dimmers and daylight sensors
  • Selected materials that were made of recycled content and sourced locally were possible, improved indoor air quality, contained biophilic and fractal patterns, or reduced fatigue
  • Installed low-flow plumbing fixtures with automatic sensors
  • Increased access to quality views of the adjacent park and mountain range
  • Provided the ability for comfort migration with a variety of seating arrangements, thermal zones, and acoustic qualities
  • Installed 4 electric vehicle charging stations and enhanced access to the site from the adjacent transit stops
  • Installed native plantings that require minimal watering and with drip irrigation at the plantings
Jefferson County Belmar Public Library entrance
Jefferson County Public Library

Lakewood, CO
United States

30,000 sf (2787 m²)