Walker Community Library, 2880 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Walker Community Library

Walker Community Library, present day
Invite to the 1981 Opening
Address: 2880 Hennepin Avenue S
Neighborhood/s: East Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1981
Primary Style: Modern
Historic Function: Library
Current Function: Library
Architect or source of design: Myers & Bennett
Builder: George F. Cook Construction
Material of Roof: Earth
Material of Foundation: Concrete
First Owner: Minneapolis Public Library Board

East Isles Minneapolis Hennepin County



In the 1970s the Walker Library at 2901 Hennepin Avenue was deemed, “not to meet the standards of a modern facility…with many exterior steps and the interior is crowded.”

It was replaced by Walker Community Library, 2880 Hennepin Avenue South in 1981, which was built out of concrete and earth at a cost of $2.3 million. It was designed by Myers & Bennett and built by George F. Cook Construction. The interior designer was Kalbac and Associates.

It was the first earth-sheltered building constructed by the City of Minneapolis and one of the few underground public libraries in the country. It measures 18,500 square feet and has a 36 car metered parking lot. An article written by the East Calhoun News in April of 1982 noted that the new Library was too busy to note its anniversary. Circulation at the library jumped 77% from 1980 to 1981. Walker Library moved from 5th place in circulation out of the 14 community library to 2nd, ranking only behind Washburn Library.

By 1993 several deficiencies in lighting, space, identity, water leakage and accessibility were noted for the building. When it was built, underground building technology was new and untested. Underground buildings, although built to conserve energy many times ended up being expensive to maintain and Walker Library was no exception. What was revolutionary in 1981 was considered ugly and prone to vandalism in 1993. By 1994 many in the neighborhood wanted to move back to the old library building instead of paying $900,000 in renovations for the leaky underground library. The renovation was still a deal compared to the estimated $5.4 million required to update the old Walker Building which had just been bought by the Junior League.

The renovations in 1995 were done to address structural issues and make the library more inviting. Seven foot high brushed stainless steel block letters spelling out L-I-B-R-A-R-Y, designed by Leonard Park Associates Architects were added to the exterior. An original mural of Cinderella based upon Beatrix Potter’s characters added charm to the children’s area. A 2001 children’s book by Susan Goldman Rubin titled “There goes the neighborhood – ten buildings people loved to hate” included chapters on the Eiffel Tower, Guggenheim Museum and the Walker Library. After initial rejection, a renovated parking deck was approved and undertaken in 1995 to eliminate the cracks and leaks in the roof of the library. A mixed used library/apartment was also proposed in 1995 but a task for decided to choose not to move forward with a building that could possibly cost $6.5 million.

More renovations were done to the parking deck in 2005 and since 2005 there has been more talk of a mixed used replacement for the current 1981 building . It was razed in 2013 for a new above ground library that opened on April 26, 2014.

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