In August 2009, thesis students in Auburn University's School of Architecture learned that the site for all thesis proposals would be in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. We took several trips to the area for context studies, site selection and analysis, documentation, and various assignments. Through this process, it became apparent to me that a very diverse group of people occupy the downtown area everyday. It seems that the residential population downtown is divided between high-end condominiums and loft apartments and lower-income housing that occupies many areas throughout the downtown area. In addition to the residential population downtown, there is a very large number of professionals who commute to work downtown during the work week. These three, very diverse groups of people seem to have little in common with one another, including the areas they frequent downtown.

Downtown Montgomery is somewhat fragmented, without a strong sense of place or overall unifying element. It was this observation in mind that I decided to explore ways in which to help bridge the gap between people of different income levels and vocations by focusing on ways to bring people together downtown.

I began to consider building types that could help solve this disconnect and decided to explore and develop a building with a civic function that could serve the various needs of the surrounding community. I ultimately decided that a library could serve a very diverse group of individuals and began developing a proposal for a public branch library for downtown Montgomery.


When considering site selection, I was naturally drawn to the riverfront- an area along the Alabama River that has been the focus of revitalization efforts and includes a minor league baseball stadium as well as several shops and restaurants. I identified a large parking lot on the corner of Coosa and Tallapoosa Streets as an ideal site for my thesis proposal. I decided to work on a 100 ft x 100 ft site on the corner of this parking lot.


  • Large, central reading area (full height)
  • Smaller reading/study nooks
  • Library stacks located around exterior of building
  • Circulation desk located at front of building
  • Employee work area / library director office
  • Employee break room and restrooms
  • Employee access to private service stair
  • Two storage rooms on first and fourth floors
  • Computer lab
  • Conference / meeting room
  • Public restrooms on each floor
  • Mechanical / fan room on each floor

The final proposal reflects a strong desire to connect with the public and contains the following elements:

  • Ground Floor - The library is very transparent at ground level to encourage public engagement. Stacks and reading areas are visible from the sidewalk through glass that wraps the building on the ground floor. The building's footprint at ground level allows for a wide sidewalk which is reflective of surrounding urban elements and will accommodate anticipated increased pedestrian traffic.
  • Reading Room - The large, central reading room is located on the ground floor and consists of a casual arrangement of tables and seating to encourage a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.
  • Stacks - Library stacks occupy the space around the exterior of the building, most prominently anchoring the corner of the building. Stack frame the central reading room and are connected by a pedestrian bridge inside the front facade.