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Worlds of Learning

Nashville school receives a much-needed library

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Prior to December 2016, the library at the Harris-Hillman School in Nashville, Tenn., was relegated to a corner of the cafeteria. The school, which was originally built in 1974 and serves students with disabilities ages 3-21, now has a dedicated space to access books, computers and laptops, and a makerspace area for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities.
Limitless Support

The 2,998-square-foot addition was built through the Limitless Libraries partnership between Nashville Public Library and Metro Nashville Public Schools, and allows the library’s resources to be tailored for the student’s wide range of abilities and needs. Designed by Nashville-based Street Dixon Rick Architecture, the library at Harris-Hillman was the fifth in a series of projects the firm has worked on as part of the Limitless Libraries program.

The program connects the schools to the library system to give students access to move books and resources, explains Steve Clendenin, AIA, LEED AP, associate, at Street Dixon Rick Architecture. While the previous projects were limited to interior renovations within their existing library spaces, this was the first new library addition to a Metro school facility.

At the ribbon cutting, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said, “Once again, the Limitless Library partnership has created a beautiful new school library that will make students’ lives better by opening new worlds of learning to them.”

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The new addition gives the library a sense of place and highlights the programs used for the education of children with special needs. {Photo courtesy of Street Dixon Rick}

EXPANDED SPACE

In addition to the makerspace area, where students can use tactile and other multi-sensory tools to study books and stories, the new library includes a classroom, a patio that connects to the sidewalk leading to the Fanne Mae Dees (“Dragon”) Park, and a separate entrance that can be used for events such as family nights or book fairs when the rest of the school is closed.

“The primary design goal was to give the library its own space and to elevate its important role in special needs education,” says Clendenin. “It was previously located in an open common  space in the original building and did not have its own dedicated space or identity. The new addition in its prominent location gives the library a sense of place and highlights the programs used for the education of children with special needs.”

“The sweeping curve of the front wall required the use of vertical panels to conform to the shape of the wall.”

Steve Clendenin, AIA, LEED AP

CONTRASTING MATERIALS

Metal panel siding creates a new aesthetic for the library addition, contrasting with the original school building, rather than trying to match the existing brick and cement enamel panel siding. “We wanted a contrast between the new library addition and the original building,” Clendenin says. “We considered trying to match the existing materials, brown brick with brown cement enamel board siding above, but felt the library needed a fresh look. Metal seemed a good choice to provide a striking contrast and it helps to give the library its own identity.”

Dimensional Metals Inc. (DMI), Reynoldsburg, Ohio, supplied the metal wall panels, which provide an economical alternative that allowed the design team to meet the project’s very tight  budget. The project features approximately 3,130 square feet of DMI’s 24-gauge HWP-16 prefinished metal wall panels.

To add interest to the exterior facade, Clendenin explains that the ribbed aluminum panels were used both in a vertical and horizontal orientation. “The sweeping curve of the front wall required the use of vertical panels to conform to the shape of the wall,” he adds.

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Metal panel siding creates a new aesthetic for the library addition, contrasting with the original school building. {Photo courtesy of Street Dixon Rick}

According to Adam Page, superintendent at Nashville-based Carter Group LLC, the general contractor, the corrugated metal panel system made it easy to create a clean finish on the radius walls on the front of the building due to the material being both rigid along the vertical axis and flexible horizontally.

The metal wall panels in Sandstone are the main color, while Brite Red is used as an accent color on the two walls of the projecting corner element, which provides a counterpoint to the sweeping curve of the front of the library addition. The two colors were carefully chosen to relate to the colors on the existing school building. “The contrasting red color was used for the front point of the building projecting through the curve, which doubles as a signage wall,” Clendenin adds.

When connecting to the existing building, Page notes that one of the concerns was how to transition between the new metal system and the siding on the existing building. “The existing siding was not a material that was readily available and due to an asbestos removal process during demolition, we were unable to reuse the old siding,” he explains. “Instead of trying to mask where we tied into the old building, the decision was made to highlight the space as part of the new construction by using the lighter color of the corrugated metal.”

A green dragon, made of aluminum with a satin finish, sits on the exterior facade, and pays tribute to the ceramic dragon located at the adjacent park.

Lee Carter, principal of the Carter Group, adds that this was a very successful project that will provide immediate and long-term needs for the accommodations needed for the children at Harris-Hillman.