Saint Paul Public Library Announces Selection of Design Firm for Library Transformations

LSE Architects selected by Saint Paul Public Library to engage community in co-creating schematic designs to transform three library buildings in Saint Paul.

SAINT PAUL, MN – Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL) announces today that it has selected LSE Architects (LSE), opens a new window as the architecture and design partner for the next phase of its facilities transformation process, which includes a vision to invest in three libraries across Saint Paul: Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview libraries. 

“The selection of LSE as design partner is an exciting step in SPPL’s efforts to secure support and resources to transform these three well-loved, well-used, and well-worn locations into hubs of community, learning, and connection,” said Catherine Penkert, director of SPPL. “They bring immense skills and experience to the table as we co-create a vision for library spaces that meets the needs of the community now and for future generations.” 

In August 2021, SPPL released a request for proposals to select a design partner to develop community-informed designs for its three priority libraries: Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview. This phase will include community engagement, schematic designs, cost estimates, and 75% completed construction documents. LSE was selected through a competitive process in which a number of local and national architecture and design firms with library experience applied. 

“LSE stood out for its record of designing beautiful, functional community spaces that stand the test of time, for the way they walk the talk with racial and social equity, and for their creative, dynamic approach to community engagement.” said Penkert. “We are thrilled to work with a firm whose focus aligns so closely with SPPL’s goals and approach to its work.” 

Community engagement and schematic design work is slated to begin in January 2022.  

“We are excited for this opportunity to work with the Saint Paul Public Library on these significant projects,” said Mohammed Lawal, FAIA, principal and CEO of LSE. “With Saint Paul residents’ imminent needs and future uses in mind, our design vision will focus on creating dynamic, inclusive, equitable and beautiful places in this rapidly-changing world.” 

About LSE Architects 

LSE is a Minneapolis-based, Black-owned firm that integrates equity into their business model, from their ownership and leadership representation to investments in career pathway apprenticeships to bringing on women and BIPOC-owned consulting partners to creating environments that reflect the culture of the communities in which they reside.  

LSE’s current and past projects include the Midway YMCA; North High School in Minneapolis; Minnesota JCC; Oxboro, historic Sumner, and Webber libraries in Hennepin County; and the renovations of Sun Ray and Highland Park libraries in Saint Paul in 2015.  

About the team 

LSE's lead architect on the project will be Lawal, who was recently named a fellow by the American Institute of Architects, and Principal Director of Public Studio and Project Manager Jennifer Anderson-Tuttle, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP.  

LSE will engage eight other firms to contribute to this project. Among them, Tricia Heuring, a local educator, public art curator, and cultural organizer, will lead community engagement. The community engagement in library design will build upon existing community learning and listening efforts by SPPL, including youth-led youth engagement efforts currently underway through a partnership with Right Track+ and the Youth Leadership Initiative to ensure youth voice informs library design. 

The team will also work with local artists who will serve as consultants and advocates for the public art throughout the process as well as a historic consultant. Additional consultants will ensure project designs maximize opportunities to achieve the City of Saint Paul’s sustainability and climate action plan goals. 

About SPPL’s vision to transform libraries 

SPPL is co-creating with community a vision for its library spaces. Community input shaped SPPL’s Strategic Direction, which includes a goal to invest in spaces that are safe, inviting, affirming, and comfortable for people of all cultures, abilities, and communities. Using the Strategic Direction as a springboard, SPPL further engaged with the community to create a Facilities Direction that steers its capital vision for library buildings. The vision to transform libraries in Saint Paul includes three library buildings that have not been renovated in more than 30 years, Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, and Riverview, as well as improvements to technology and play and learn spaces in all library buildings in Saint Paul.  

To learn more about SPPL’s vision to transform libraries and/or join the email list to learn about forthcoming community engagement opportunities, visit  


About Saint Paul Public Library 
At Saint Paul Public Library, we welcome all people to connect, learn, discover, and grow. We are at 13 library locations across Saint Paul, the Bookmobile, and online at Follow us on Facebook, opens a new windowInstagram, opens a new window, and Twitter, opens a new window