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Main Library (Albuquerque Public Library)

By Edith Cherry and James See – January 28, 2020


501 Copper Ave. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Access:  505 768-5141  |  Main Library

George Pearl, FAIA, the design architect of Albuquerque Public Library’s current Main Library, was a leader in the effort to find a modern architecture that spoke of the special qualities of the Southwest, what we now call “Regional Modernism.” The design of today’s Main Library deploys extensive earth-toned brick walls and a careful attention to openings to accomplish this goal. While traditional Southwest architecture is often composed of load-bearing walls, this building’s concrete frame supports its visual mass and welcomes the public with glazing on most of the ground floor.


The interior design acknowledges the importance of flexibility in public libraries that seek to accommodate changes in technology and function. Service spaces (stairwells, restrooms, mechanical systems) are placed on the outside edges of the rectangular floors, leaving the interior area free to be rearranged as technology and library uses change. The ceiling system that serves both for lighting and air conditioning is on a grid that is a multiple of a bookshelf module. The wall-panel system was designed to be movable and also fits that grid. All three levels here—one underground and two above—have these same flexible systems.

6 2nd Floor EC-1 copy

A greenhouse added to the building’s southeastern face in 2006, helps focus attention on the main entry and provides space for a retail coffee shop above, and a bookstore expansion below.

4_DSC4003-1 maybe not the best

Completed:  1975
Architect:  Stephens Mallory Pearl and Campbell, Architects
Contractor:  George A. Rutherford, Inc.
Remodel completed:  2006
Remodel Architect:  Cherry/See/Reames, Architects
Remodel Contractor:  Longhorn Construction Services, Inc.
Award(s):  25-Year Award by AIA Albuquerque (2016)


Public Art: Multiple pieces, including Metal Pages (artist: William Vielehr, commissioned 2005) and Cone 10 (artist: Tom Waldron, 1994).

Learn More:
2015 Arar, M.A.E, et al., Albuquerque Modernism: A Guide to Mid-Century Architecture in Albuquerque, NM, ed. Brian D. Goldstein. University of New Mexico, School of Architecture and Planning seminar

City Landmark (Albuquerque) (2020)








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