Apr 07

Agave Library, Phoenix, AZ – The Inside

by Mike Miller

AGAVE LIBRARY, PHOENIX, AZ by architect, Will Bruder + Partners


More AGAVE LIBRARY… There’s a lot of sensory concrete here to love. I’m not sure if Will Bruder was aware of or thoughtful about this as he envisioned it, or whether a lot of this was just a lucky accident, but, either way, it’s really cool!

Interior flooring is a simple gray concrete slab, but not quite so simple… Concrete must have been cured with some type of a membrane: a curing blanket, visqueen, etc… Notice the “watermarks” from collected condensation.

Floor is simple, unassuming, and yet elegant. Other structural elements are similar, like the raw trusses and exposed ceiling. Notice art and furnishings which are at least sculpturally richer, and some even moving towards amorphous.

My guess is that these floor graphics were a lucky accident, caused by differential curing, as the result of “a greenhouse effect”. Three of the basic rules of sensory concrete are take advantage of natural variations in ambient conditions AND where possible, minimize mechanical processes… but, if mechanical processes are used, use processes that are “effortless” AND strive to lose some (and, sometimes, most) control. This slab was most likely cured with some type of sheet goods, for basic structural reasons… to produce an tough, abrasion resistant, concrete surface AND to control shrinkage cracking, etc… This is a very simple mechanical process, which , from a sensory concrete aesthetic standpoint, effortlessly takes advantage of variations in ambient conditions (such as the visqueen is not perfectly flat, and is perhaps folded). Condensation develops, is collected and channeled and falls back differentially. There is no control here… It just happens! These graphic marks are developed effortlessly and serendipitously… So, was this a boo boo, or a blessing??? I don’t know what Bruder would say, or even most folks… But, to the concretist, it was a blessing… A gift!

In addition to being sculpturally looser, many furnishings are in bright colors and of transparent materials (visually lighter in weight, as opposed to the real and visual weight – opacity – of the structural materials: concrete, block, steel, wood, etc…).

Novel use of basic materials… Here is a screen wall composed of cold storage door screens.

So, more colorful and transparent furnishings and fixtures… Such as ART! These are towers in the children’s reading area. “M” is for monkey. “M” is also for Mike. Don’t know who the artist was, but, he or she was good!

Here are kids fiddling with one of the interactive features… This is a wheel which drives a prop, at the top of one of the towers.

“F” is for finish… That’s all for now, folks!

5 Responses to “Agave Library, Phoenix, AZ – The Inside”

  1. Great Pics. The floor was a fun experience having Mike explain just what I was looking at and how the concrete was treated to end up looking the way it did. Imagine walking with a geologist through a mountain gorge, and having to stop and look at what they point out and want you to understand. I have a whole new way of looking at raw concrete since being with Mike at the Agave Library!

  2. avatar Russ Miller says:

    And I had the pleasure of both Mike and Steve’s company – A real treat! Two experts with unique and individual viewpoints.

    The interior of the library was even more unique than the exterior which showed the beauty of construction items which are not usually a part of the finish detail such as ducting, trusses and cables which are left exposed and make up the “finish” look of the project – Brilliant!

  3. avatar Mike Miller says:

    Yah! And I would say that you and Crocker were part of the colorful furniture, set off so well by the gray concrete and the sensory concrete “geologist” (really, an amateur petrographer), me… I’m glad Bruder created this venue for our visit, exploration and discussions!

  4. My associate, Emily McClintick was just there, the day before yesterday, re-photographing the space (including new shots of the garden, in the back)… We’re collaborating on an article for Concrete Decor, on the library. She noticed something I hadn’t…

    I think the really colorful, transparent and visually light (as in weightless) fixtures and furniture play so well upon the really gray and neutral, opaque and actually heavy concrete floor! Emily pointed out something beyond this. She noticed the way the light and colors are focused like a lens, through and from these objects and ON TO the concrete floor, this along with shadows and “hotspots” from lighting, creating whole new layers of depth and interest!

    When you look at things in this way, from the position of really being present and observant, it’s amazing how grateful you become, for the gifts and lessons, of a simple “plain gray slab”… Eh?

  5. Thanks for the great post. I always like to bookmark concrete or construction related posts like this one.Recycled Concrete

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