Milwaukee Public Library - East Branch

21st Century Community Center

East Branch Library creates a 21st-century environment for community gathering, reading, and learning. The library organizes the collections around a “marketplace” spine that provides customers with convenient access to library staff, reserves, new materials, express-checks, laptop vending equipment, study rooms, and computer work spaces.

The building salvages and reuses artifacts from the former library to honor the library’s history and create a sense of place. Decorative slab glass panels, for instance, are reused to inspire the interior material palette, now forming an illuminated ribbon of color. And tongue-and-groove wood ceiling boards were milled and reinstalled into a custom steel frame to add warmth and intimacy to the children and adult collections while concealing lighting, sprinkler heads, and HVAC diffusers.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Building Type



16,500 SF

  • 2016 IEA/IIDA Section Guth Award for Interior Lighting
  • 2015 Library Journal, New Landmark Libraries Honor Award
  • 2015 Milwaukee 2014 Mayor's Design Excellence Award
  • 2015 IIDA Wisconsin First Place Award
  • 2015 Daily Reporter/Wisconsin Builder, Top Projects 2014
  • 2015 Milwaukee Business Journal, Best in Real Estate Award

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