When a big box supermarket in Eden Prairie, Minnesota went out of business, locals didn’t let the oversized building stay vacant for long. A renovation designed by Bentz, Thompson Rieto Architects transformed the sprawling space into a state of the art library with gorgeous vaulted ceilings! Now the building’s former life as a grocery store is hardly recognizable amidst the rows of books.
The community of Hennepin County seized the opportunity to buy the out-of-business big box retailer when it was left without a tenant. Rather than letting the empty building mar the neighborhood, they decided to turn it into a center the entire community could use – the Eden Prairie Library.
The supermarket’s open plan offered the ideal space to house the county’s book collection. The original arched ceiling was revamped with a geometric pattern that accentuates the openness of the space. The arch is met with a giant glass skylight that faces the parking lot (a recognizable feature of most supermarkets). But now the skylight acts as a natural light source that floods the library with daylight along the arched ceiling.
A partial drop ceiling was added to create more intimacy for the reading and research areas. It also keeps heating and cooling costs lower throughout the year. Comfortable chairs and couches are arranged in groups around the carpeted floor, creating informal areas for study and browsing books. Eden Prairie citizens also have access to the enclosed computer lab, DVD collection and kid’s area.
Standard supermarkets offer a tough typology for reuse, but the Eden Prairie Library successfully transforms the disused space into a modern facility the community can enjoy.