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Columbus Metro Library Hilliard Branch

Senior living clubhouse becomes a modern library in central Ohio.

December 06, 2019 |
Main Stair in Columbus Metro Library Hilliard Branch

Wooden accents in the staircase offset the mostly white space and help to define programmatic elements. Photos: Cory Klein Photography

The modification of the Columbus Metropolitan Library Hilliard Branch from a senior living facility clubhouse focused on two key principles that informed the design process: first, take advantage of existing infrastructure as design opportunities; and, second, form space and experience through strategic interventions.

The project team realized that the 60,000-sf space required simplification over addition. The existing senior living facility was broken up with a plethora of small rooms that served as exam rooms, salon services, dining spaces, and exercise facilities. The library required fewer but larger spaces to facilitate flexible programming, studying, lounging, browsing, and playing. Instead of gutting the building and creating entirely new spaces through additive processes, the library’s rooms were created by editing what was already in place.

Similarly, most of the existing MEP and structural infrastructure was saved by the project team, led by architect DesignGroup, having designed the library to blend seamlessly with what was already built. Infrastructure elements were designed to become landmarks throughout the space to enhance wayfinding.


Library pavilion A three-season pavilion provides a glass-encased connection to the outdoors.


Staff work areas on the first floor were integrated with an existing service elevator. Walls with structural lateral braces were reused and reimagined to define zones in an otherwise open plan. The structural braces were reclad to maintain their structural integrity while opening sight lines for staff and patrons. An existing lower slab area and ramp create a children’s programming zone with tiered seating.

Some elements of the new library, however, couldn’t be integrated with existing infrastructure and needed to be completely redesigned and rebuilt. A deteriorating pool enclosure was redesigned to become the library’s new reading room. A large floor opening was cut in the “Welcome Zone” to create a dramatic entry space and bring light deep into the building from large windows on the second floor.

Daylight was brought into the building throughout without significant alteration to the building envelope, creating bright spaces in what was a dark, difficult-to-navigate building.

Interior glazing maintains the daylight and views while defining spaces for teens, quiet study, and group study. It also creates lighting zones in larger public spaces to help guide  visitors to and through amenity spaces. The majority of the walls are left white and use splashes of color and wood to define programmatic elements.



BUILDING TEAM DesignGroup (submitting firm, architect) Columbus Metropolitan Library (owner) SMBH (SE) Korda Engineering (MEP) Turner Construction Company (CM) DETAILS 60,000 sf Total cost $13 million Construction time August 2017 to May 2018 Delivery method CM at risk

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