When life hands you lemons, you don’t make lemonade… You use the seeds and you plant a whole orchard! This is what the city of McAllen, Texas did!
Though in its beginning McAllen, Texas was mostly rural and agricultural land, in the 20th century the city has seen much growth and is now one of the fastest growing areas in the United States. The transformation of the area has been incredible!
Perhaps one of the biggest examples of the city’s transformation comes in the form of a library.
The McAllen Public Library: An Impetus for Change
After big-box retailer Wal-Mart moved from its location to a space down the street, the empty store was left abandoned. While the location could have been used to house another large chain store or left to gather dust, the city had another idea in mind and stepped in, bought the property and spent $24 million to transform it into a public library.
You’re probably thinking, “Well that’s a weird building for a library.” So true, but it’s not just a plain block building with books and tables. In December 2011, the 123,000 square foot facility, now known as the McAllen Public Library, was renovated into a vibrant space for residents and visitors of the McAllen area.
According to the McAllen Public Library system, this new facility might be one of the largest single-floor public libraries in the nation. Complete with a modern design, twenty-foot ceilings, bright skylights and windows, the library is given an airy and contemporary feel.
Within the building, visitors have access to a computer lab, a cafe, meeting rooms with full videoconferencing capabilities and an auditorium that seats 180 people. Compared to the city’s previous library facility, this is a huge upgrade! No more cramped shelves and no more limited seating!
The addition of electrical outlets at each table in the building is a huge advancement compared to the old one. According to John Donohue, the library’s circulation supervisor, “in the old place, basically every table or chair next to an electrical outlet was taken, and you had others glancing longingly at those seats. Now, we have outlets at all the tables.”
Though this may not seem important, advances in technology and its integration into mainstream society has made technological advances a must! Luckily, library administrators in McAllen fully understand the need and embrace technology in their field.
The McAllen Library is no stranger to the limelight. The building design has won numerous awards and accolades, including:
- AIA Honor Award for Interior Architecture
- ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards: Best Overall and Best of Category, Public Libraries over 30,000SF
- AIA Minnesota Honor Award
- IIDA Northland Chapter FAB Award
Throughout the design, emphasis was made to include nods of nature–tabletops made from local mesquite to varying shades of green carpet to match fields and citrus groves of the valley. The exterior included native palms, live oak and cypress trees to help mask the past of the previous life. You can see pictures of the McAllen library here.
Credit can be given to the city’s efforts and also to Boultinghouse Simpson Gates, the McAllen-based architecture firm that was hired to lead the project of the transformation, and to Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, a Minneapolis firm with decades of experience with design and conceptualizing public libraries. Together, these firms were able to work collaboratively to use the funds available in a responsible and modest way.
To date, residents and visitors still continue to flock to the library and serves more than double the number of patrons it did in the previous one.
Living in McAllen Texas
The city of McAllen clearly has a vision for the growth of its city and well-being of its residents, and is becoming on of the most desirable places to live in South Texas. The area boasts a vibrant art, entertainment and culture scene – and with the perfectly moderate climate – McAllen is appealing to many. With a low cost of living and exceptional education system, McAllen is a very attractive area to place roots and raise a family.
If you are considering a move to this wonderful area, give our team at Trendsetter Realty a call for more information. With years of experience in the local real estate market, we have the experience and knowledge to help guide you in your next purchase. Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling, connect with our team today to get started!