MacDonald & Mack Architects, Quinn Evans Architects to Update Mid-Century Modern Landmark 

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners recently approved the initial design for the modernization of the Southeast Library, located adjacent to the University of Minnesota on the East Bank of the Mississippi River. A prominent Mid-Century Modern building designed by renowned architect Ralph Rapson, the circa-1963 library will be transformed by the team of MacDonald & Mack Architects and Quinn Evans Architects. 
 
Originally designed to serve as a credit union, the 13,000-square-foot building was converted to a public library in 1967, with a renovation design also completed by Rapson. The building closed in 2006 but reopened in 2008 and continues to serve as a public library today. The facility consists of a single-story concrete structure with a basement and single-level underground parking garage. 
 
The design team is collaborating with Hennepin County administrators and library staff to complete the design of a 21st-century library environment that will serve the community with inviting spaces, state-of-the-art technology and resources, and modern amenities. The initial design phase included preparation of a comprehensive facilities assessment, addressing a range of issues such as site conditions, the exterior envelope, structural and building systems, security, technology, and interior elements. The project will update the building’s infrastructure, increase access for patrons, and renovate the lower level, which has been closed due to its deteriorating condition. Construction is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2018. 
 
Both MacDonald & Mack Architects and Quinn Evans Architects bring a strong appreciation for the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic and are known for their portfolio of historic preservation work, including mid-century structures. MacDonald & Mack Architects’ past work includes the restoration plan for the tower at Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, designed by Eliel Saarinen with an education wing subsequently designed by his son, Eero Saarinen. Quinn Evans Architects has designed the renovation of several theaters within the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and is currently designing the modernization of the National Air and Space Museum.  
 
Quinn Evans Architects also has a large portfolio in library design. Recent work includes the renovation and expansion of the Mardigian Library at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the Carnegie Library in Howell, Michigan. Current projects include the renovation and expansion of the Allegan Public Library, design of a new building for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library, and a renovation and addition for the Glen Lake Community Library, all in Michigan; as well as a renovation and addition for the Baraboo Public Library in Wisconsin. 
 

“The Southeast Library presents a dual challenge in terms of its modernization. We need to reimagine the interior as well as the exterior public spaces to create a vibrant, modern library environment with community gathering and study spaces, while also addressing the technical challenges of an aging concrete structure. The most significant elements of this 1960s-era design will be retained, preserving its legacy as a Modern icon.”

Thomas Jester, AIA, FAPT, LEED AP 
 
MacDonald & Mack Architects is the architect-of-record for the project, with Quinn Evans Architects serving as associate design architect. Additional design team members include Mattson MacDonald Young for structural engineering, Nelson-Rudie Associates for mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineering, Anderson Engineering for civil engineering, Damon Farber for landscape architecture, Elevator Advisory Group for elevator consulting, and Elert & Associates for technology consulting.