Columbus Library, City Hall, and Children’s Museum

The Columbus Community Building is the new home for the public library, city hall, and children’s museum. This shared facility supports the City’s vision to provide a downtown anchor vital to offering egalitarian services enriched by human connection. The three-story, 78,000 square foot facility features a library designed around 21st century library principles, a flexible community room with adjacent teaching kitchen, a two-story volume for childrens’ exhibits, a tenant-finish coffee shop and a front porch with outdoor learning environments and play.

A front porch warmly recalls a place of gathering, a place where all are welcome. The inclusivity a porch connotes is the message the City desires to portray for its people and visitors. The front porch provides strong physical and visual connections to the two-story library, children’s museum and coffee shop. In addition, it provides much needed play space for downtown Columbus.

Replacing the existing building, the new public library has an expanded role as the central hub for the City. It occupies the prominent corner of 14th street and 26th Avenue, diagonally across from Frankfort Square. Greeted first by a porch complete with outdoor learning, flexible environments and child play, a visitor will enter level 1 to experience an open floor plan. Configurable seating, lounge chair arrangements, a business incubator, genius bar and meeting spaces define the active uses for a library patron. On level 2, youth and family services, teen and adult areas, and children’s programming are arranged on the periphery of a central staff space. Collection shelving is sprinkled throughout both levels of the library.

Third-floor city hall features a neighborhood workplace environment where private offices are internally-placed leaving the perimeter glass facade open for natural light and views. Subsequent to this layout is informal breakout areas and workstations that gain access to light and views. Additional programming for city hall includes a diverse offering of private meeting rooms, a fitness space for building staff and a break room with connection to a rooftop deck.

The community room is a highly flexible space for use by the library and other outside groups. A teaching kitchen, also serving as a catering kitchen, opens directly into the community room or the pre-function space making it conducive for varied uses. The city council chambers opens onto this space as well by a removable partition. The community room has access to a limited roof deck with expansive views of the City of Columbus and Frankfort Square. 

Frankfort Square is the quintessential town square that initially organized Columbus. The Platte County courthouse abuts the southern edge of the square establishing a traditional relationship between government and public open space. Stretching east of the courthouse, along 14th Street, resides a string of city service buildings. These tired buildings will be razed to provide space for the shared facility to be constructed. Consequently Frankfort Square will have a renewed connection to a vitally important facility alive with active programming.

BVH is employing optimization software to calibrate the facade glass percentages, views and daylight control. Careful attention has been given to creating interior environments that mitigate glare and heat gain for the maximum benefit of human comfort and prolonged usability. Biophilic design with materiality, environmental graphics and connection to the outdoors will promote wellness for those that work and visit this facility. A target energy usage index (EUI) for this facility is 13 which is an 80% reduction in energy consumption for a comparable building. These measures will provide an efficient building for the city to operate and maximize human comfort.  

With this new facility, the City will be able to offer elevated public services, enhance early literacy, stimulate economic development, and attract and retain new talent to the community.


City Council Gets a Look at Design or Upcoming Community Building Project


Columbus, NE

Year Completed

In Progress


City of Columbus


78,000 sf

BVH Team