A recent “sneak-peek” inside the soon-to-open public library branch in the Brays Oaks Management District revealed a cutting-edge facility with kaleidoscopic window panes, a cafe, a podcast studio, a technology center and many more modern touches.

Several hundred people from nearby neighborhoods such as Westbury and Meyerland took a pre-opening Dec. 16 tour of the new Dr. Shannon Walker Neighborhood Library at 5505 Belrose. It replaces the now-closed Meyer Library on West Bellfort as a service to that section of southwest Houston.

Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke at the event along with Houston Public Library Director Rhea Brown Lawson and District K Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum.

Also on hand was Vanessa Wyche, NASA Johnson Space Center director, who introduced the library’s namesake, former astronaut Dr. Shannon Walker, by way of a video. Walker — a native of Westbury — was on work duty as the leader of new astronaut training.

Walker attended public schools in the area before enrolling at Rice University. She is the only native Houstonian who has successfully traveled to space as an astronaut, and she served as an International Space Station commander.

The 23,000-square-foot library sits on two and a half acres. Rich Vela, assistant director of real estate design and construction for the city, described the property as environmentally sustainable, with landscaping that helps to conserve water. The building’s physical space is within context (in height and volume) with the residential and commercial aspects of the neighborhood.

Lawson said the new facility is the first Houston public library with a café, perfect for those who like to sip coffee or other beverages while reading.

 There is a space specifically for teens, called the Teen Zone, a children’s library area with a turfed hilly play area.

 There is an extensive technology center and an adults-only space as well.

“This will be a destination library,” Lawson said. “This was a community effort, and the needs of this community were met in their love of their libraries.”

Modern in design by Brave Architecture, most stunning are the multi-colored glass panes that brighten the library interior.

Finishing touches are underway with the grand opening expected in March or April 2024.

— By Arlene Nisson Lassin