Like many of the great stories found in the books contained within its walls, the story of the new Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne, Texas, designed by OCO Architects, is both multifaceted and engaging. There are two distinct sides at play in this library’s story. One side tells a story about tradition and order; by remaining true to iconic “Hill Country” building concepts such as form, limestone walls, metal roofs, sun shading, fenestration proportions and a front porch, tradition is honored. Tucked within these limestone walls are the support and operations areas.
Meanwhile, a story about playful, transparent geometries and their connection to nature is told on the other side of the building. This side steps back and allows the adjacent wooded area to shade the backyard. All reading areas, the internet café, quiet room and youth activity room are nestled along this side overlooking the rolling Hill Country landscape.
The thread that weaves the two sides of this 30,000-square-foot project together is the fact that the design team set out with the goal of attaining LEED Silver certification and achieved Gold instead. The interior design concept is a celebration of the fundamental qualities and inherent characteristics of natural materials. To reinforce the connection to nature, exterior building materials like limestone and flat-seam metal panels were brought inside and used in tandem with structural steel and reclaimed longleaf pine.
Design decisions that helped the project to achieve LEED certification included:
- Installing bicycle racks and changing rooms, as well as preferred parking spaces, to encourage the use of alternate forms of transportation
- Rainwater harvesting and reuse of HVAC condensation to reduce potable water consumption for landscape irrigation
- Installing low-flow water closets, low-flow urinals and ultra low-flow lavatories to reduce potable water use by 42 percent
- Specifying an efficient exterior envelope design, lighting controls and an efficient HVAC system to reduce energy costs by 21 percent
- Recycling and diverting construction waste from landfills
- Establishing a post-occupancy recycling program
- Selecting materials that emit very low or no VOCs
- Specifying materials with high levels of recycled content
- Using regionally quarried stone to minimize negative impacts of construction material transportation
Glass walls at the back of the library provide abundant natural light and allow visitors to enjoy the Hill Country view. The scenic backdrop is a beautiful setting for the expanded outdoor events that are offered on the terrace and covered patios, and a vivid reminder of this project’s sustainable story.