Reading Rainbow

Children and education were the focus for the design of the new Jefferson Parish River Ridge Library in Harahan.
Photos by Sara Essex Bradley
“For this neighborhood, the parish wanted a single-story, easily accessible facility with an open, flexible floor plan to accommodate future reconfiguration,” says Brian Faucheux, Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects principal-in-charge.

 

Orange, blue and yellow butterfly sculptures dangle overhead, providing even more color among the blue, green and orange accent walls at the new, 10,500-square-foot Jefferson Parish River Ridge Library in Harahan. The state-of-the-art library features multiple meeting and study rooms, a self-checkout and children’s room, as well as 26 computers and a host of other technology for members of the community. Designed with children’s services in mind, Jefferson Parish officials worked with Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects on the $3.4 million project, which was completed in the spring of 2018.

“The Jefferson Parish Library director expressed a love of color and butterflies,” says Brian Faucheux, principal-in-charge at Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects. “Color and butterflies became a theme for the interior design and artwork. This can be seen in the three large butterfly sculptures suspended from the lobby ceiling crafted by artist Matthew Placzek of Placzek Studios, as well as playful graphics on book shelving end panels in the children’s area. Bold color is used throughout the interior to identify program areas around the library.”

For the exterior design, Faucheux says the team took inspiration from traditional Louisiana residential architecture, such as Creole cottages, employing a sloped gable roof and covered porches.

“The primary building materials that were selected reflect the traditional inspiration for the design and are traditional construction materials — face brick, cast stone masonry, stucco, glass,” says Faucheux. “…It’s really the interplay of the various materials that create the exterior’s appeal.”  

The open interior floor plan, which allows for reconfiguring the space if needed, mirrors the open exterior, which Faucheux says was important to parish officials who wanted the entrance façade to encourage visitors to come inside. Faucheux says the team also committed to “a green, sustainable design approach utilizing recycled materials where possible, with energy efficient operating systems, equipment and appliances.” He says parish officials requested low-maintenance, energy efficient lighting, maximization of natural lighting and control of sun and glare, as well as a low-maintenance roof design. The project wasn’t without challenges, however.

“The site was relatively narrow and deep, with limited frontage on Jefferson Highway,” says Faucheux. “…We ultimately proposed a site plan that located the library close to the highway (with no parking in front) for maximum visibility. A challenge during construction was the proximity of the site to the Mississippi River; any subsurface site work had to be scheduled based on the flood stage of the river. When the river was high in the spring, no digging or excavation could be done.”

The final result is a welcoming, vibrant space that reflects a focus on children and education, but is at the same time sophisticated and appealing to all ages.


At a glance
Jefferson Parish River Ridge Library

Address
8825 Jefferson Highway, River Ridge3.
Office completed
March 28, 2018 (construction completion)

Architect
Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects; Brian Faucheux, AIA – Principal-In-Charge; Ken Zito, AIA – Project Manager

Interior Designer
Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects; Julia Stefanski

Furnishings
By Owner

Square footage
10,500 square feet

Budget
$3.4 millon (Total Project Cost)

Primary goal
“To create a modern library that would provide the parish and River Ridge with state-of-the art amenities while ‘fitting in’ comfortably with its surrounding residential and commercial neighborhood.”

Biggest challenge
Working with a narrow and deep site with limited frontage and close proximity to the Mississippi River.


“Color and butterflies became a theme for the interior design and artwork. This can be seen in the three large butterfly sculptures suspended from the lobby ceiling crafted by artist Matthew Placzek of Placzek Studios, as well as playful graphics on book shelving end panels in the children’s area.”  
– Brian Faucheux, Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects principal-in-charge


The design employs bold color throughout the interior, which helps identify the various uses of each area. The open floor plan allows flexibility in the configuration of the space, should the need arise. For the exterior design, Faucheux says the team took inspiration from traditional Louisiana residential architecture, such as Creole cottages, employing a sloped gable roof and covered porches.


The Children’s Room is one of the many ways the design team fulfilled parish officials’ desire to keep the focus on children and education.


The colorful, state-of-the-art, 10,500-square-foot Jefferson Parish River Ridge Library in Harahan was designed by Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects.