Vacant Suburban Big-Box Store Transformed into Pedestrian-Focused Library and Public Park

Olathe’s Indian Creek Library Brings Community and Nature to an Overlooked Facility

KANSAS CITY, MO – October 18, 2019 – Nationally recognized design and planning firm Gould Evans, in partnership with the City of Olathe and library programmer Group 4, has designed the newly completed Indian Creek Library in Olathe, Kansas. The 47,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project prioritizes community gathering spaces, such as a café, makerspace, teen zone, children’s garden, public meeting rooms, and courtyards.

The design of the new Indian Creek Library responds to the client’s goals of increased flexibility, community engagement, and connection to nature. The former building — crowded and constrained — suffered flood damage and the City of Olathe elected to purchase a vacant grocery store as their new facility. The design team transformed the introverted big-box store by peeling away the entire west façade, strategically inserting skylights and windows, and integrating indoor/outdoor courtyards. The front quarter of the library is now composed of flexible community spaces and meeting rooms, with the café serving as an anchor. A portion of the existing parking lot is being converted into a new city park.

“The opening of Indian Creek Library represents the latest in public library design and services, all enhanced by the gorgeous sunshade, dramatic ceilings, and generous daylight,” said Emily Baker, Director of Olathe Public Library. “It’s a beautiful place where our community can gather, make, read — or, just be.”

The entrance features an expansive glass curtainwall protected by a prominent sunshade. Inspired by the adjacent Indian Creek Trail, the sunshade features more than 700 custom-folded, aluminum and stainless steel panels — some with integrated lighting. The panels mimic nature's reflection of light and visually connect the building with the popular, neighboring trail.⁠

"We wanted to replicate the reflection and movement of this beautiful place along the Indian Creek Trail,” said Sean Zaudke, Associate Principal at Gould Evans. “I look at the sunshade and see rustling cottonwoods. Others see light flickering on water, stars shimmering at night, or pages turning in a book. The library is a place of gathering and interpretation, where visitors can spend time building their own narrative.”

The materiality consists of a simple palette: metal, wood, and glass. The sunshade’s metal panels continue into the interior, where they are introverted in form and installed as a patterned ceiling. Service areas are signified by reclaimed-elm cladding, chosen for visual warmth and its strong ties to the history of Olathe. (A once-prominent grove served as a stop on the westbound Sante Fe trail.) A series of skylight beacons guide visitors through the library by designating key service points: the main entry, café, adult reading area, and meeting spaces. Glass puts the library’s interior services on display and also provides transparency between community meeting spaces.

The building features a series of exterior courtyards with outdoor amenities tied to their interior adjacencies — an amphitheater, fireplace, and outdoor dining patio. The reworked west parking lot subverts vehicles to celebrate the pedestrian. Large plantings create a generous entry plaza; allées connect parking to the building and remove entrance-adjacent traffic.

The full program includes:

  • The Commons welcomes visitors from the lobby and provides space for meeting friends, reading, and relaxing while enjoying the library café.
  • The Lab provides a makerspace with the newest in 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters, and a large-format printer.
  • The Event Space features a large meeting room for use by organizations, individuals, and public programming.
  • The Marketplace offers customer services such as checkout and information, the latest in books and AV to take home, public computers, and materials return via an automated system that gets everyone’s attention.
  • The Stacks provide browsing and reading space for adults, teens, and children, including flex spaces such as the interior and exterior courtyards.
  • The Children’s Program Room and Garden create spaces for younger kids, including a colorful, custom bubble wall.
  • The Zone and Teen Space are dedicated to gaming, teen activities, and events. All services are placed on a raised-access floor to accommodate technology and infrastructure changes as the library evolves over time.

The project is a collaboration between Gould Evans, the City of Olathe, Group 4, and McCownGordon Construction.

A grand opening celebration for the Indian Creek Library will be held on October 19, 2019, 9:45 a.m to 5:00 p.m.


Jessica Kleoppel

High-resolution renderings and photos are available for download here.

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City of Olathe Olathe, “the city beautiful,” is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest. Olathe is located just 20 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, offering a lifestyle of exceptional quality. A drive through Olathe's attractive neighborhoods shows a well-planned, pleasing community. Olathe's fire and police departments are among the finest in the country. The award-winning Olathe Public Schools is one of the best in the nation. Olathe has been named a “best place to live” by Money Magazine and was recognized as a Fast City by Fast Company. Learn more at

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