The Oak Forest Library’s Totally Mod Remod

Reopened yesterday after almost 2 years of construction and renovation: The Oak Forest Library at 1349 W. 43rd St., sporting 2 new brick-and-glass wings on the buildings west side, around a new outdoor reading room. The original building’s signature green tile mosaic wall still faces the Oak Forest Shopping Center’s continuous W. 43rd St. parking lot, but a new second entrance for the neighborhood now peeks out from behind a much greener space on Oak Forest Dr. — across the street from Oak Forest Elementary:


Three small local architecture firms — Natalye Appel + Associates Architects, Donna Kacmar‘s ArchitectWorks, and James Ray Architects — teamed up to re-mod the steel-and-brick 1960 building. Behind the restored Italian glass tile wall, where the circulation desk used to be: a new kiddie reading nook.

Now there’s a much larger and lighter space in the 4,500-sq.-ft. addition you can check out:

Photos: Natalye Appel + Associates Architects, Architect Works, and James Ray Architects

20 Comment

  • Really very nice work.

  • Very nice. It is commendable that the architects showed some appreciation for and worked with the existing aesthetic of the building.

  • Thanks for the reminder … I will check it out asap. This place always reminded me of my elementary school library from the 60s. It was like a trip back in time to go in there, drop off donations for their Book Fair, and see the layout, tables, chairs and stacks as if they had been preserved in a museum. Not sure I’m ready for something modernized, although I knew the day would eventually come.

  • That library is looking cool. Nice work.

  • Amazing pictures. Spent a great deal of my youth in that library as I grew up in Oak Forest. Seeing the picture with the circulation desk gone is just plain weird. I will have to take a trip back to the old neighborhood just to go inside and look around.

  • Nice update and thanks for a reminder of growing up in Oak Forest.

  • Just one more reminder of how great The GOOF(Garden Oaks/Oak Forest) is becoming.

  • Fantastic. Hopefully, the City will get its budget act together so they can keep libraries open on the weekend.

  • Fantastic! I took some pictures about four years ago and wow, what a difference!

  • Wow. Might be too many changes for a Good Brick, but maintaining the steel-and-glass esthetic and the tile wall, especially when they aren’t the most popular design elements now, sure deserves some kind of recognition.

  • @marmer – The project recently won an AIA Houston Design Award.

  • I love this and want to go there NOW!

    @Lauren–thanks for sharing your photos, it’s really neat to see what it was like before.

  • Beautiful! In your faces, thou “tear down anything ‘old'” devotees!

  • Ahhhhhhhhh….something novel and beautiful done in Houston. There is still hope.

  • excellent job!
    and nice archives, Lauren!

  • Hellsing, this library was scheduled for demolition. It was saved by an HPL exec who knew it was worth saving, hired a great design team, and negotiated a budget to get it done. Despite the public’s constant denigrating, there are plenty of “public” employees who are doing great things for Houston.

  • The library is beautiful! However, take a look at their hours of operation. In my opinion the library will be of service and pleasure only to the privileged residents in Oak Forest.
    The “working class” will have very little access to it. If you have a Monday-Friday job, do you actually think that you will be able to enjoy the library? I think the Oak Forest Residents need to flood the mayor’s office with a request to open 1/2 day on Saturdays or one night a week until 9pm.

  • Sandi,

    Longer library hours requires more, not less, money. HPL’s budget has been chopped more than 25%. Name any business, institution, or family that can have its income/budget slashed by 25% and do “more”. The Mayor isn’t the main problem; Houstonians (and Texans) who want more; more library hours, more schools, more teachers, more roads, more parks; but keep electing people who don’t comprehend that tax revenue is the way all those things are funded. So instead of flooding the mayor’s office, how about voting for elected officials who aren’t intent on turning Texas into a Third World Country.