In August 1999, the Central Arkansas Library System selected Stocks-Mann Architects, PLC in association with Jameson Architects PA, to design the renovation of a 1907 vintage warehouse as an annex to the Main Library in Little Rock. The basement and first floor house a used bookstore. A coffee shop and the Library’s Gift Store are also located on the first floor taking advantage of the open space. The second floor contains a working art gallery with an artist cooperative called the Corps d’Arte to staff the gallery. The third floor houses the Library’s private art collection and a meeting room for 75 people to supplement the Library’s current meeting space.

Existing components of this unique structure were reused in the design of the renovated facility. The electric elevator motor which was operational from 1907 until it was removed in 2001 was cleaned, sealed and located on the site as a reminder to the building’s past. The original hoisting beam to the elevator was cleaned and painted and is now the entry portal on the first floor to the new hydraulic elevator.

One of the more unique modifications involved the third floor meeting room. An existing wood column was removed and replaced with a steel truss and turnbuckle system designed to open the space for unobstructed use for meetings and future exhibits. Building codes required two fire stairs, one was placed where the original stair was located and the second stair was located at the south end of the building. The south stair doubles as a mini-atrium giving visitor’s visual access to a four story space, both from the interior and exterior. These wall openings on the second and third floor are automatically sealed with a rated folding partition in the event of an emergency. All finishes and details are in keeping with the intent of maintaining the character and essence of the warehouse.

The Central Arkansas Library System has always been interested in environmentally friendly mechanical systems. This structure is no different with its use of a 60 ton closed loop geo-thermal system. This system consists of 17 – 500 foot deep wells located under the parking lot. Though a more costly system to initially install, this system will pay back the installation cost in seven and one-half years and then continue to save on energy cost to the Central Arkansas Library System for years to come.

The renovated Cox Building had the distinction of as one of its early displays, President Clinton’s preview exhibit consisting of selected artifacts of his presidency during the construction of the Clinton Library east of the Cox Building. The masonry and timber building is an excellent example of adaptive reuse in the growing River Market District.