Abandoned Walmart Transformed Into Beautiful Public Library

And the winner is…. the McAllen Public Library!

Out of ugliness comes great beauty.

The International Interior Design Association recently selected the McAllen Public Library in McAllen, Texas, as the winner of their 2012 Library Interior Design Competition. What’s so special about that?

The city of McAllen got stuck with a former Walmart store after the retailer closed the store and abandoned it. (Nice going, Walmart.) But instead of tearing it down, the city made the smart decision to reuse the structure and create a new main library, which is the size of 2.5 football fields, making it the largest single-story library in the United States.

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.
of Minneapolis were selected to handle the interior design which the city required to be functional, flexible and affordable to construct. The company began by stripping out much of the old ceiling and walls left in the space. All the perimeter walls and ceiling were given a fresh coat of white paint. The resulting cavernous space allowed plenty of room for an auditorium, computers lab, classrooms and meeting rooms, and adult and teen reading lounges — not to mention hundreds of thousands of books.

As grist explains:

The best part: Library registration jumped 23 percent after the new building opened. Sure, some of those people probably wandered in looking for a gun and 200 diapers, and just took a while to figure out what was going on. But a lot of them just wanted to make use of a beautiful new public space.

You can check out photos of this gorgeous building by clicking here. What a great example of creative reuse of space!

What do you think? Was this a good idea?

Related Stories

Want Better Reading Scores? Hire A Full-Time Librarian

Does Reading Make You A Better Person?

Library Usage Up As Cities Slash Budgets



Photo Credit: robertstinnett


JOSE Honr3 years ago

Cool and practical. Thanks.

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago


Lynn D.
Lynn D5 years ago

Great news but maybe a homelss shelter would have been better!? Thanks!

Vicky P.
Vicky P5 years ago

wow, great

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

very awesome!

Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley5 years ago

that is really awesome!

Allan Yorkowitz
.5 years ago

As a public school librarian, this was quite an article. The largest single story library in the US. I'm more than impressed.

Ann M.
Ann M5 years ago

This is great. I live in a jurisdiction that is closing libraries and has severely shortened the hours and closed them on Sundays and each one is closed on one weekday. It must be wonderful to have space for all those books and technology! I practically lived in the library during summer months when we lived in DC. They have recently begun to renovate and/or build beautiful libraries, but I loved the old Carnegie downtown best!

Kamryn M.
Kay M5 years ago

glad something good came out of it.

Marta S.
Marta S5 years ago

Wow! What a great concept. Not only does McAllen have a new library, it is completely accessible without use of elevators (which adds to building costs). I love the "office chic" feel to the spaces and hope that this library will be of great use for many years to come.

Catherine: your post was interesting, but I think you should perhaps write a column and submit it to Care 2 so it can be posted as a news item, instead of it being buried in the comments of something unrelated. Good Luck!