Category I - LIBRARY


The library – a place where knowledge is collected, curated and disseminated - is one of the oldest and most distinguished of building types. Ancient civilizations around the world painstakingly recorded and stored information on stone tablets, papyrus scrolls and animal skins. These collections of information were managed by the privileged and powerful – emperors, kings, generals, priests and scholars.

The mechanical printing press replaced highly prized handmade artifacts with mass produced documents on paper. This technological development enabled the unrestricted circulation of information and ideas, which in turn spurred political revolutions and religious reformations. Expanding literacy gave birth to the public library. Free public libraries, which provide services to all and feature open stacks that allow people to choose books for themselves, have contributed significantly to political and economic progress.

The library continues to evolve and embrace new forms of mass communication, which are reshaping our world.   Like the building type, the book itself has changed dramatically – from treasured work of art to virtual electronic formats. In addition, libraries collect music, film and other audiovisual media.  To reinforce local on-site resources, they have digital access to collections worldwide.

The library today is an open source exchange for all forms of information and entertainment. Serving an increasingly diverse public, the library must now accommodate many forms of social interaction, both face-to-face and digital. Despite the ability to download all forms of media anywhere and at any time, the library, through the social and information networks it fosters, continues to play a critical role as cultural agent in the community.

The design of the library should be guided by the principles of innovation, creativity, identity, sustainability, functionality and efficiency. Your proposal should take a strong conceptual position about the changing nature of the library as a building type and as a mirror of contemporary culture.

Your proposal is to be a central library for a population of your choosing. It may be located in a city, town, suburb or university. The choice of site should position the library to play a central functional and symbolic role in the life of its community.

The total area of the program may range between 30,000 – 100,000 square feet and should be compatible with the needs of the population served.

The circulation systems of the library should be designed to accommodate the differing needs of staff, patrons and the general public. Library staff should be able to circulate between offices and workrooms in private. Open access to collections for library users must be balanced with the need for all patrons to pass through security screening before leaving the building. Facilities for the general public must be able to operate both when the library is open as well as independently outside library hours.


Reception/information; reference and periodicals; secure return accessible from outside; public cloakroom/lockers/restrooms

Spaces for storage, display and checking out of books, music, film and other relevant media

Active spaces
Spaces for individual and group use of collections and digital media; acoustically isolated classroom(s); meeting room(s)

Library staff facilities
Reception area and offices; circulation workroom for sorting and repairing returned materials; staff lockers and lounge

General public facilities
Café; forum for readings, talks and/or performances with relevant support spaces

Building support
Public/staff parking as appropriate for the context; loading dock for library materials, building supplies and trash; furniture/equipment/supplies storage; building maintenance staff office(s), lockers and lounge

Exterior spaces
Secure exterior space for library users and/or outdoor space for the general public

+ Download the full 14-15 Steel Competition Program (pdf)



For questions please contact: 


Eric Wayne Ellis
Director of Operations and Programs  
Angela DeGeorge 
Programs Manager