architecture books design

Building of the week: McAllen Main Library

It’s not a problem we really have in Britain, but the abandoned supermarket will be familiar to residents of some of America’s urban areas. Walmart in particular has been closing smaller stores in order to consolidate around larger ‘supercentres’. The shells that are left behind are something of a problem. The small local shops that went out of business when the supermarket arrived aren’t going to come back, and it’s hard to fill a retail space of that size. They usually end up sitting empty and decaying.

Not in McAllen, Texas. When Walmart pulled out, they left this vast grey space the size of two and a half football fields. What to do with it?

If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re imagining it full of books.

Neatly divided into sections to make it easier to navigate, the building now houses the McAllen Main Library, a computer suite, conference facilities, a gallery and a cafe. It’s the biggest single-storey library in the US. Library staff report that new registrations are up by almost a quarter since the new library opened.


  1. Excellent post. There’s a strange story in Middleton (Manchester) where Tesco and Sainsburys moved in so a Kwik Save (remember them) went bust. Now Tesco has redeveloped it into a new Tesco with a library add on. Sad thing is there are a few rows of shops round there that will suffer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: