Project DescriptionBy the time planning began four years ago for the new Traverwood Branch Library in Ann Arbor, Mich., it was tragic but not surprising for the architects at Inform Studio, of nearby Northville, to find dozens of dead ash trees on the proposed building site. Early in a design process focused on sustainability, the library’s architects at Inform realized the dead trees’ wood could become part of the library itself. It worked: the ash trees were used to make interior flooring, wall panels, ceilings, and a row of expressive columns along a bank of windows facing south into a nature preserve. Cost-cutting sacrificed a green roof, but a rain garden, planted with sedges, slows down and helps filter stormwater runoff that percolates into a nearby retention pond. Inside the library, narrow floor plates allow the sun to light the warm, ash-lined reading areas. The massing also promotes passive ventilation through operable windows activated by low-voltage actuators, which tie back to the mechanical systems. Window blinds on south- and west-facing façades are controlled by daylight sensors to cut unwanted glare.
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