When Walmart abandoned a store space in McAllen, Texas, for a larger property, the city didn't let the lot sit vacant. In one truly impressive before and after, the mega-chain's old building has been transformed into a beautifully designed and decorated 123,000-square-foot public library. Just as the Walmart had moved on to a space better suited to the company's needs, this project allowed the city to offer an expanded and modernized version of its previous main library. The new and improved version includes not only practical details, such as more outlets for laptops, but also designer touches like Marimekko wallpaper. This attention to detail and creative reuse won library the overall prize for the 2012 Library Interior Design Awards.
My best friend recently toured the McAllen Public Library and wrote about the building's transformation. Read more about the library and her visit in The New York Times, and see a before and after video on the library's website.