Vancouver Community Library


Mayer/Reed (wayfinding), Miller Hull Partnership (architecture), AldrichPears Associates (interpretive installation)

Practice Area


Vancouver Community Library


Project Vision

A “drawer full of knowledge” metaphorically describes the building design and wayfinding concept for the new Vancouver Community Library. A 200-foot long, four-story atrium is the open drawer, exposing the library’s contents and encouraging exploration.

Wayfinding to the collection is integrated into an adventurous stair and “knowledge wall,” immersing patrons in the experience of using and navigating the building. A graphic wall representing the collection reaches up the atrium, linking database stations with the collections on each floor. Super-scaled letterforms painted onto the concrete undersides of the exposed stair landings identify collection and program locations at a glance and promote use of the main stair instead of the elevators. A lime-green acrylic resin “pop of color” building directory at the base of the stair provides more detailed information for the Vancouver Community Library. Dimensional floor numbers imbedded into the painted steel walls at each floor landing are visible while ascending or descending. As you pass from the atrium into the collections, the building becomes an orderly, streamlined display of books and technology with pops of color suspended overhead and mounted to furniture, highlighting collections and program areas. For maximum flexibility, these signs are designed with printed clear film inserts that can be changed by library staff.

Moved from a suburban site to the heart of the historic commercial core of the state’s fourth-largest city, the Vancouver Community Library building is the cornerstone of a planned four-block, 600,000-square-foot mixed-use development, including a public plaza that will spill out from the library’s four-story atrium. At the main entry adjacent to the plaza, fabricated sculptural letters spelling out “Library” invite interaction from visitors young and old in a celebration of literacy. Painted in lime-green, the 27-inch-tall, 8-inch-deep stainless steel letters straddle a steel planter box, introducing the play of bold color, form, and scale in the wayfinding system.

Find content in your area of interest in the SEGD Xplore Experiential Graphic Designindex.

Project Details
A seamless integration of architecture and wayfinding—a symphony of materials and finishes—a playful interplay of scale and architecture. An imaginative wayfinding system for a multi-storied library. This project shows what a library can be as opposed to what it has been traditionally.
Juror 1
Design Team

Mayer/Reed: Michael Reed (partner in charge), Kathy Fry  (project manager/project designer)The MillerHull Partnership: Craig Curtis (design partner); Sian Roberts (partner in charge), Ruth Baleiko (lead project designer), Adin Dunning (project manager)AldrichPears Associates: Isaac Marshall (principal in charge), Sheila Hill (project manager), Brent Dutton (designer) 

Design Firm

Mayer/Reed (wayfinding), Miller Hull Partnership (architecture), AldrichPears Associates (interpretive installation)

Project Area

83,000 sq ft


Interface Engineering (mechanical/electrical), Candela (lighting), Kramer Gehlen Associates (structural), HDJ Design Co. (civil), The Miller Hull Partnership (interiors), Adams Consulting (hardware), Green Building Services (LEED and sustainability), RDH Building Sciences (envelope), Altermatt Associates (acoustics)


Plumb Signs (wayfinding signage fabrication), Pacific Studio (Knowledge Wall fabrication and installation)