Louisville Free Public Library Southwest Regional Library Branch

Louisville Free Public Library Southwest Regional Library Branch Louisville, Kentucky

Services Provided

Sustainable Design
Landscape Architecture
Construction Documentation

People Involved

Andy Knight


2015 KY ASLA Honor Award
2015 AIA Kentucky Honor Award
Named ‘Best Library in the Commonwealth of Kentucky’ by Huffington Post

A new community library for the 21st century.

The Southwest Regional Library, along Dixie Highway in suburban Louisville, is designed as a library for the 21st century, embracing technology and flexibility to promote growth and adaptability in the future. The new 40,000 SF building is home to youth and adult collections and approximately 100 computer stations.

Located on a tight, 4.1-acre site surrounded by retail parking, an active rail line, and single-family homes, the design challenge was to accommodate the large footprint of the new library, more than 100 surface parking spaces, natural stormwater management, a civic entrance to the building, a city bus stop, and pedestrian connections to the surrounding community.

The design focuses on providing a variety of experiences, both inside and out, and establishing a “place” within the traditionally suburban corridor. The result is an oasis from the busy vehicle dominated suburban highway—a retreat into a learning and educational experience on multiple levels.

Views from within the building are strategically located, providing opportunities for patrons and library staff to view gardens, wildlife, and natural sunlight. Packed into this small site are performative sustainable design elements that provide a transformative experience and support the building goal of achieving LEED Gold certification. Green infrastructure incorporated into the sculpted elliptical parking area includes a pavement strategy designed to convey and manage stormwater in sustainable and educational ways, and layered native plant material that add to the dynamic seasonal appeal. MKSK worked closely with the local Metropolitan Sewer District to design a basin that utilized the sandy soils found throughout the city of Louisville, and deliver a sustainable solution that educates and creates place.


The design team and the Louisville Free Public Library embraced the idea of designing a center island in the parking area to serve as a vegetated bioretention basin that not only manages the library site’s 100-year storm event, but also the adjacent developments that previously drained to a traditional basin on this site.