The architecture of the new library took its inspiration from the Mississippi River. At the Library's Grand opening, Architect Lowell Berg of Clark Enersen Partners offered a succinct description of the river elements that may be found in the building.
"On the outside of the building there are three different brick colors...a color stratification similar to the banks of the Mississippi. The outside facades of the building include bands of limestone...representing high water marks from history's many flood events. The flaring out at the high roofs are evocative of the flared smokestacks of the paddlewheel steamships that used to travel the river. As you look at the window walls, the blue glass at the middle is the river, the higher yellow glass, the sun. The river also metaphorically flows through the building. In the main circulation spine traveling west, you will see it in the wall behind the service counter, and in the carpet that is visually active, like sun reflecting off moving water. Or, in the blue glass tile that climbs up the bottom of the walls as if wakes are hitting the bank; a bank that is represented by limestone above the tiles. On top of the limestone bank, bamboo paneling is the forest, vertical and sepia like the trunks of trees. Above the river is a cloud ceiling, and at night, the layout of the can lights in the cloud accurately represent the constellations."