An Abandoned Walmart Is Now America’s Largest Single-Floor Library

There are thousands of abandoned big box stores sitting empty all over America, including hundreds of former Walmart stores. With each store taking up enough space for 2½ football fields, Walmart’s use of more than 698 million square feet of land in the U.S. is one of its biggest environmental impacts. However, at least one of those buildings has been transformed into something much more useful: the nation’s largest single-floor library. Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle transformed an abandoned Walmart in McAllen, Texas, the 124,500-square-foot McAllen Public Library. MSR stripped out the old ceiling and walls of the building, gave the perimeter walls and bare warehouse ceiling a coat of white paint, and set to work adding glass-enclosed spaces, bright architectural details, and row after row of books. The library even has an acoustically separated lounge for teens, as well as 6 teen computer labs, 16 public meeting spaces, 14 public study rooms, 64 computer labs, 10 children’s computer labs, and 2 genealogy computer labs. Other new features include self check-out units, an auditorium, an art gallery, a used bookstore, and a cafe. While you can still see hints of what the library once was in its sprawling shape and industrial ceilings, it seems like an entirely new space. The library saw new user registration rise by 23% within the first month following its opening.