McIntosh Memorial Library



Viroqua, Wisconsin



City of Viroqua



0.40 acre | 0.15 ha



13,450 sf / 1,250 sm



new public library including children's and adult collection areas,  teen area, staff workroom, board room, multi-purpose program room












A Reinterpretation of the Indigenous Driftless Area


The city of Viroqua sought to expand its existing public library services while extending its access to additional community programs. As a result, and with generous community funding, a new 13,750gsf public library was erected at a new location.  The Library physically connects to Western Technical College (WTC) with an infill lobby space, forming a center for learning in the community.   The intent is for this new Library to focus on bridging public access to additional social amenities and educational venues flexible enough to accommodate the town’s long-term needs. In addition to traditional collection areas for adults and children, specialized areas including teen focused spaces, children’s program room, board meeting room, and expanded adult computer areas were developed.


The richness of the region, board and community involvement, along with the various programmatic needs for the facility influenced a collaborative, sustainable solution.  This region is known as the Driftless or lack of glacial drift area.  It’s a region characterized by an eroded plateau with bedrock overlain by varying thicknesses of loess.  This region has elevations ranging from 603 to 1,719 feet with diagonal and deeply dissected river valleys.  The new Library takes its inspiration from this unique geological landscape with the massing giving way to four large roof monitors, which invoke the image of the varied hills of the region.  Each monitor is punctuated with large glass openings and folded to bring interest and curiosity to these elements from the street.  Inside they provide moments of varied ceiling heights and allow for dynamic and shifting daylight conditions during the day.  A courtyard is embedded along its western edge in reference to the valleys of the region.


On the exterior, copper anodized aluminum panels were selected for their varying coloration, giving the library a shifting presence throughout the day, similar to how daylight casts varying shadows among the indigenous landscape.  Contrasting the panels, the monitors are clad in a white stucco finish, giving them a more sculptural presence from the base of the building.   With the goal of the library to be as environmentally responsible as possible, green strategies were employed where the budget would allow.  Exterior insulation, daylight sensors, high-performing mechanical systems and recycled materials are engaged throughout the facility.


Finishes were chosen with long-term durability and flexibility in mind.  Accent walls of modular walnut panels were used to highlight specific areas.  Darker carpet tile choices with smaller accents of bold colors were used to hide the daily wear and extend the life of the carpet.  As a nod to the history of the previous Carnegie Library, the original reading tables were reused within the adult collection areas.  A feature element, at the request of a donor, was designed adjacent to the courtyard area.  A large limestone fireplace was strategically integrated next to the courtyard and provides a welcoming space and divider among collection areas, as well as becomes a focal point upon a patron’s arrival.