Working within the Wals

I am not inordinately fond of Walmart, not for any of the usual reasons, but because of their comparatively liberal return policy, which has led people you might have thought were sane to get the urge to take their only-just-purchased motor vehicle back to the dealer the next weekend and get their by-gosh money back for reasons ranging from “the transmission fell out” to “it’s too hard to drive a stick.” Doesn’t work that way, kiddies. And you can find at least one of these deluded souls almost every damn day on Yahoo! Answers’ Cars section.

A slightly more sophisticated objection: Walmart moves stores around a lot, at least in metropolitan areas, and when they do, they leave behind these humongous boxes of concrete that no one wants and hardly anyone bothers to offer to subdivide.

So this report is heartening indeed:

The International Interior Design Association recently selected the McAllen [Texas] Public Library as the winner of their 2012 Library Interior Design Competition. The city inherited the former Walmart after the retailer closed the store and abandoned it. The decision was made to reuse the structure and create a new main library within. Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. of Minneapolis were selected to handle the interior design which the city required to be functional, flexible and affordable to construct. For a library, the existing 124,500 square foot space is huge. That’s the size of about 2½ football fields making the new library the largest single-story location in the US.

I note here, strictly for comparison, that the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library in Oklahoma City covers about 114,000 square feet — over four stories.

Did McAllenites go for the new library? “Within the first month following the opening, new user registration increased by 23%.”


  1. Tatyana »

    3 July 2012 · 5:02 pm

    was just reading in the subway the library issue of Contract Interiors magazine.
    it’s an impressive job, to do something with humongous concrete tomb on a shoestring budget…but it
    s not the most impressive library out of those that got an award.

  2. Roger Green »

    3 July 2012 · 8:45 pm

    Two elewments I liked:
    1. reuse of a building, rather than razing it
    2. showing the popularity and increased demand of libraries, which every study I’ve seen have shown

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