Multnomah County Library Selects Award-Winning Architecture Teams for East County Flagship

Multnomah County Library Selects Award-Winning Architecture Teams for East County Flagship

After a multiphase request for proposals facilitated by Multnomah County’s Procurement team, the Library Capital Bond Program Management Office announced today that the team of Holst Architecture, Adjaye Associates and MultiCultural Collaborative has been selected to design the East County Flagship, a large-scale, engaging library that will truly be a destination and serve the approximately 40% of Multnomah County residents who live east of I-205.

Of nine projects approved by voters in November 2020, the East County Flagship will be an entirely new building from the ground up. For this project, the building will be on a scale similar to Central Library in downtown Portland, but with the accessibility and ease-of-use for all East County residents. By building an estimated 95,000 sf new library on a new site, the Library has the opportunity to dream big alongside the community and provide an exciting level of services and programming in a vibrant, diverse location.

The prime architect of record is Holst Architecture, a local, award-winning, women-owned firm which has extensive experience in meaningful, community-guided projects. Holst has completed eleven major affordable housing and social service projects in East County—a testament to their commitment to equitable design and deep understanding of the area. Notable projects include The Nick Fish, which provides quality affordable housing in Portland’s Gateway Urban Renewal Area, and the Rockwood Youth Campus, which brings together Open School, Rockwood Boys & Girls Club and New Avenues for Youth in a unique non-profit campus concept that provides vital services to the East County community. Holst Principal and Owner Kim Wilson will serve as the Principal in Charge for the project, bringing refreshing amounts of community knowledge and collaboration to the flagship.

“As a team, we’re passionate about projects that center and highlight the power and wisdom of communities, and we know the new flagship library can fulfill all these possibilities and more,” said Kim Wilson. “We believe this should be a space that sparks creativity and imagination—a space that, like a good book, continues to give, unlocking new ideas and connections.”

Joining Holst on the project as design architect is Adjaye Associates, an internationally acclaimed architecture firm known for their inspiring work on recent projects including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., which reimagines the purpose of museums in the 21st century with a clear vision of community building. Similarly, the Winter Park Library & Events Center in Winter Park, FL, serves as a space for community empowerment and revitalization. The team from Adjaye is led by Sir David Adjaye OBE, an award-winning Ghanaian-British architect who uses both artistry and ethos for community-focused design. Adjaye was announced the winner of the 2021 RIBA Royal Gold Medal, considered one of the highest honors in British architecture for significant contributions to the field internationally. Most recently, Adjaye was named an inaugural recipient of the 2022 TIME100 Impact Awards.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as design architect for this precedent setting library project,” said Sir David Adjaye OBE. “Together with Holst and MultiCultural Collaborative, we will work together and in close, continued dialogue with the local community of East County to design a lifelong learning facility that instills a sense of collective wonder and pride.”

With the flagship being located in one of the most diverse areas of the region, affirming, robust community engagement will be at the heart of this project. No one knows that better than MultiCultural Collaborative (MCC), which helps communities of color amplify their voices in policy and decision-making discussions. MCC is particularly knowledgeable about the work of the library as it organized and led the focus groups for the 2016 Framework for Future Library Spaces which has closely informed the work for the Library Capital Bond Projects.

The Engagement and Design Integration team from MultiCultural Collaborative includes Anita Yap, Engagement and Integration Lead; Nikoyia Phillips, Equity and Engagement Strategist; and Suenn Ho, Design Integration Lead. The team noted, “We are thrilled to be leading the engagement and design integration for the new Multnomah County Library Flagship in East County. Our team is deeply committed to centering racial equity, community engagement and integrating community wisdom to lead the design and construction of the library. As a women-owned, BIPOC team we will serve as role models to inspire BIPOC youth and community members to see themselves as the experts in equity focused design.”

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury celebrated the announcement, stating, “I’m delighted by our partnership with Holst, Adjaye and MultiCultural Collaborative to design and build a new library that will be as iconic as it is transformative for our East County neighbors. I’ve been a happy patron of Multnomah County Library my entire life, but I’ve been especially proud to support the library and its work to build equity in our community throughout my time serving on the Board. A flagship library that becomes a welcoming space filled with opportunities is the kind of addition that can benefit everyone in East Multnomah County.”

Commissioner Lori Stegmann, who represents East County, has championed the flagship, recognizing the vital impact it will have for residents. “Building a future flagship library in Gresham is monumental. This investment further demonstrates Multnomah County’s commitment to East County communities. As we move forward with the planning process, I could not be more excited about our partnerships with these world class architects, designers, and planners,” Stegmann said.

On July 8, Multnomah County Library and TriMet announced an initial agreement to begin a due diligence period of 120 days to negotiate the library’s prospective purchase of the Gresham City Hall Park and Ride as the site for the East County Flagship.

“Everyone deserves beauty,” said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke. “Today, we are taking a big step toward creating something beautiful. Something that centers the community in its design and function, is owned by the community and is a catalyst for lots of good things happening in East Multnomah County. Multnomah County Library promised to center equity in this bond work and we’re walking the talk.”

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