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With architects chosen, Merida English Library expansion moves forward

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A group of architects submitted a winning bid for the Mérida English Library’s expansion. The canopy simulates shapes and colors from the existing mural, which depicts shelves of books. Image: Courtesy

Mérida, Yucatán — The Merida English Library, a long-standing expat hangout in the heart of the “gringo gulch,” has announced an architect for its long-awaited expansion.

The winning proposal was from a team of architects including Kenneth E. Goodman, Miguel Puig and Studio 360.

The submission “takes into account all of the needs specified in our request, and makes beautiful use of the space,” according to an announcement posted online today.

The design includes two classrooms, each accommodating 20 people, in the middle of the garden. Currently, the library has just one meeting space for 10 people. The plan also integrates the bookshelf mural that anchors the present garden space.

In fact, some of the new design takes its inspiration from the mural. Retractable metal-and-glass panel walls and the canopies in the front courtyard area borrow from the mural’s shapes and colors.

“We are grateful to these talented architects for taking the time to consider all aspects of the request and come up with a proposal that will allow the library to offer more activities and programs in a beautiful and environmentally friendly space,” reads the MEL statement.

“Next step… Raise the money! We will be launching fundraising efforts very soon, so stay tuned!” continued the announcement, which included no timeline or cost estimate.

The Merida English Library is a nonprofit English-language lending library, with more than 12,000 books and DVDs and a busy slate of activities. They are known for lecture series and a high-season home-and-garden tour, both of which are listed on this events calendar (scroll down to see).

MEL is open to the public through a nominal membership fee.

Its roots are traced back to 1994, when an expat named Elizabeth Dunkel stood up at an International Women’s Club Christmas brunch meeting and said, “Let’s start an English Library.”  Before the initiative, all exchanges of reading materials in English were done informally.

It has since grown into a hub of community activities, networking, and information distribution. Among its myriad activities are a yearly art-studio trail and weekly house-and-garden tours.

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