The Arabian Library is a branch library of the Scottsdale Public Library system. All of the branches in the Scottsdale Public Library system are named after horses.[1] Other libraries in the Scottsdale Public Library system include the Appaloosa Library, Mustang Library, and Palomino Library.[2] The library is a certified LEED silver and is architecturally reminiscent of the surrounding landscape and architecturally distinct from the surrounding buildings. The library has won regional awards for the design of the library and the AIA/ALA Library Building Award.[3]


The Arabian Library was originally housed in the Desert Canyon Middle School, functioning as both a school library and a public library. The Arabian Library in this original location was only 8,400 square feet of space.[4] By 2003, the Scottsdale Public Library identified that the space was no longer sufficient for the need and the Arabian Library was conceptualized.

Project description
Arabian Public Library, Scottsdale, AZ; Copyright owner Carlos J Meyer Photography; Used with permission.

The 20,875 square foot Arabian Library was completed in 2007.[5] The budget for the project was 4.6 million dollars.[6] Conceptually, the library emulates the slot canyons that are prevalent in the desert around Arizona.

Of the inspiration, the architects described the emotional experience of discovery: "You never know what’s around the next turn. The mass of the canyon wall might hang over the trail, and then you might go around a corner and suddenly see blue sky. It’s an exploration. And if you hike out here, you always find things rusted and left over from another era."These elements are evident in the entry, which resembles entering a canyon and the sudden emergence into a central courtyard as well as the pre-rusted steel of the exterior of the building.[7]

The building inspires patrons, deliberately, in several other ways. The windows of the building were designed to emphasize the beautiful mountains of the area and specifically excluded the less inspiring architecture surrounding the library. The Seattle artist Norie Sato was contracted to provide art for the building. She designed steel and glass appliqués and a sculpture, all of which were inspired by the prickly pear cactus, indigenous to the area.[8]

Photo at the entry of the Arabian Library in Scottsdale, Arizona; Obtained from Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU FreeDocumentation License.
The city also sought a LEED certification for the new building. Although an originally planned green roof was not able to be built due to budgetary constraints, many other LEED elements were incorporated into the design, including:
  • Local Materials
    • Granite from regional sources
    • Pre-rusted steel from Phoenix (given the building its deep red color)
    • Recycled cotton from Chandler
  • Recycled parking lot (preserved from the building that previously occupied the site)
  • Low emission paint and sealant
  • MDF pegboard ceiling
  • Specifically designed, underfloor air-circulation system designed for energy efficiency

Other features of the building include:
  • Strategically placed Teen and Children's spaces (at opposite sides of the building)
  • A drive-through pickup window for holds[9]

Architect (Contractor, etc.)

Richard + Bauer
1545 West Thomas Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85015
(602) 264-1955

Contact information

Arabian Library
Scottsdale Public Library
10215 E. McDowell Mountain Ranch Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
(480) 312-7323


Richard + Bauer Architects
Scottsdale Public Library


  1. ^ Nancy Levinson, "Arabian Public Library," Architectural Record, June 2008, Retrieved 2012-02-12, from
  2. ^ "Locations and Hours," Scottsdale Public Library, Retrieved 2012-02-10, from
  3. ^ "Awards/Publications," Richard + Bauer, Retrieved 2012-02-18, from
    "AIA/ALA Library Building Awards," American Library Association, Retrieved 2012-02-18, from,%20Grants%20and%20Scholarships&LP=Yes&uid=B8A9B805ADF3FE2D.
  4. ^ "Underfloor Service Distribution," Tate Access Floors, Retrieved 2012-02-09, from
  5. ^ Christopher Henry, "Arabian Library / Richard + Bauer," Arch Daily, 01 May 2011, Retrieved 2012-02-09, from
  6. ^ "Underfloor Service Distribution," Tate Access Floors, Retrieved 2012-02-09, from
  7. ^ Jade Chang, "Arabian Library," Metropolis Mag, 21 January 2009, Retrieved 2012-02-09, from
  8. ^ Scottsdale Cultural Council, "Desert Tracery: Norie Sato," Scottsdale Public Art, 2011, Retrieved 2012-02-09, from
  9. ^ Jade Chang, "Arabian Library," Metropolis Mag, 21 January 2009, Retrieved 2012-02-09, from