The new public library is the result of a 2005 initiative to expand the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) system, which lead to four freestanding branch facilities for Ann Arbor’s school district. The Traverwood Branch serves as a community-based learning center primarily for the residents of northeast Ann Arbor.
Being across from the Sapp Nature Area – an 8.11 acre nature reserve adjacent to the site – the design strategy of the library was to serve the public and community, while also protecting and maintaining the existing ecosystems and biodiversity within and around the site. Situated on a heavily wooded 4 acre green-field site, the library is oriented to minimize its impact on the natural environment, while buffering the road and surrounding buildings. The library programming consists of open-study areas, a technology bar, private study rooms, a large multi-purpose meeting room, and an electronic training classroom.
A unique feature of this project is the innovative use of reclaimed Ash wood from local trees (from the project site and nearby areas) which were destroyed by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer insects (all across SE Michigan). Ash logs are used as interior structural columns and Ash wood is used as the primary interior detail, wrapping rooms, creating furniture, and framing views of the nature outside. Additional sustainable design features include a storm-water management system, rain gardens, and daylighting strategies throughout.