Abandoned Walmart Transformed Into A Functioning Library

Abandoned Walmart Transformed Into A Functioning Library

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle's design of the McAllen Pubilc Library in Texas is a case study of creative reuse.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 28 june 2012

The International Interior Design Association recently selected the McAllen Public Library as the winner of their 2012 Library Interior Design Competition. The city inherited the former Wal-Mart after the retailer closed the store and abandoned it. The decision was made to reuse the structure and create a new main library within. Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. of Minneapolis were selected to design the interior of the building which the city required to be functional, flexible and affordable to construct. For a library, the existing 124,500 square foot space is huge. That’s the size of about 2 1/2 football fields making the new library the largest single-story location in the US.

Before the renovation.

MSR began by stripping out much of the old ceiling and walls left in the space. All the perimeter walls and ceiling were given a fresh coat of white paint.

New Entry

A laser-cut wood wall at the entry folds into a ceiling plane that runs the length of the building, visually dividing the library on the left from the computer lab,meeting rooms and staff areas on the right.

Service Spine

A centrally located area painted bright orange contains all the service amenities and separates adult’s and children’s collections.

The design includes a number of ceiling elements wrapped in unique super-graphics to aid visitors in locating categories in the vast interior.

Area 3918

An acoustically separated lounge for teens (refers to the street address).

Main Aisle

Within the first month following the opening, new user registration increased by 23%

Photos by Lara Swimmer


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