Shoreview Library honored with architecture award

file photo • The light-filled and spacious new Ramsey County Library-Shoreview opened its doors Jan. 28. Now it’s award-winning, recognized by the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

file photos • Windows abound at the Shoreview Library because designers were aware of the striking views just over Highway 96.

file photos • A faux fireplace makes for cozy reading, and the library’s red brick exterior is in line with the rest of the buildings in the Shoreview Commons area.

The new $15.8 million Ramsey County Library-Shoreview has been recognized for its architectural design by the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 

Back in 2008, the Ramsey County Library system created a master plan involving upgrades for all library facilities in suburban areas. The Shoreview Library was the final capstone project under the master plan. Construction of the library began in October 2015 and it opened in January.

Rochester-based Hammel Green & Abrahamson Inc. was the architecture firm trusted with the project. As a result of its work, in collaboration with the people of Shoreview, the firm was awarded AIA Minnesota’s Honor Award. 

The award, given according to the selection of three judges comprised of the nation’s eminent architectural minds, shines a warm, but discerning bay window light on interior and exterior design excellence, as well as environmentally friendly and sustainable technology and engineering systems. 

Victor Pechaty, HGA’s vice president and design principal, said he and HGA appreciate the kudos and reward for hard work. He also said that the award belongs to the firm’s clients: Ramsey County and the City of Shoreview. 


Kudos follows


Pechaty said he and his team did not start the library’s design with any preconceived style, but drew inspiration from what was unique to the community. HGA’s researchers were intrigued by Shroeview’s native vegetation, woods and waterways. 

Any design process for an architectural firm is contingent on what the client wants, said Pechaty. Any good design is a collaboration.

When HGA presented its initial designs inspired by Shoreview’s verdant woodland wonder, Shoreview residents didn’t like it. 

“One of the most memorable moments was the community open house at City Hall,” said Pechaty, recalling how attendees alerted HGA to how different the proposed library design looked from other buildings in the immediate area. 

The cluster of city buildings at Victoria Street N. and Highway 96, like Shoreview City Hall, the public works building and community center — referred to by Pechaty as Shoreview’s “civic campus” — all have a “common palate” of different shades of red brick. HGA’s initial design did not fit. 

“It was a casual review,” said Shoreview Mayor Sandy Martin of the open house, adding that she found it to be a very good and collaborative process.  


Follow the 

red brick road

Pechaty said HGA really worked to embrace the feedback from the city. Once it moved toward a red brick aesthetic, the firm started working on different and detailed brick patterns “to give the building a different level of scale and texture,” Pechaty said. 

One of HGA’s red brick-inspired creations is a brick pattern that replicates books resting on a shelf, with some of the “books” protruding slightly next to each other, like every real book shelf, ever. “I thought that was so creative,” said Martin. 

HGA continued honing its focus in from Shoreview in general, to the confines of the civic campus. 

The firm reoriented its inspiration from riverbank vegetation, instead repurposing wood from oak trees taken down to make way for the building, to build benches. 

Staying focused on what can be seen standing at the library site, Pechaty said his team observed that “there is this stunning view across Highway 96” of wetlands and parklands.

The team designed the library to have a space devoted to the stunning vista, with big windows and a faux-fireplace for cozy, living room reading with a view. 

The spot is a little elevated above the highway, Pechaty said, so that the view is not looking directly at cars, but over them, “to see trees and beyond.”

Martin said the firm did a really good job of displaying the landscape — the collaborative efforts of HGA and Shoreview proved so good as to be award-winning. 


Sleek and safe

Martin said the library is still a work in progress. She said the city is looking for better access to the library by improving the pedestrian path to the community center, and other additions for safer, more direct pedestrian access to the building. 

“We’re delighted to have the library there,” said Martin, “it’s getting enormous use.”

That delight should be readily available for decades to come, Pechaty pointed out, noting that a building like the library “should hold for 80-plus years.”

The Ramsey County Library-Shoreview is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It’s located at 4560 Victoria St. N.

– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at or 651-748-7815.

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