Meet one of the masterminds behind the coming library in HW: Ross Piper

The Orange County Library System’s Horizon West Branch Library is estimated to open spring 2025.

Horizon West resident Ross Piper is one of the masterminds behind the future Horizon West Branch Library.
Horizon West resident Ross Piper is one of the masterminds behind the future Horizon West Branch Library.
Photo by Annabelle Sikes
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Ross Piper defines himself as a father, an artist and an architect — in that order.

A year of living in a small town in Italy changed the 33-year-old Horizon West resident’s outlook on life forever.

Although he always enjoyed art, Italy is where Piper truly fell in love with it.

“There’s so much passion there in everything they do,” he said. “Anything from cooking a meal to tasting a wine to painting a picture — and everything inbetween. I’ve taken that concept and fully applied it to the way I live my life. A lot of people compartmentalize their different parts of their lives — like family, work, hobbies, etc. I have a more all-encompassing approach. I bring it all together. My family is the biggest part of my creativity and design.”


Originally from Venice, Florida, Piper studied architecture at University of Detroit Mercy in Michigan.

His world travels led him to experience amazing places, culture and people who inspire his life, work and art.

In 2014, Piper moved back to Florida, where he has worked as a project manager with Borrelli and Partners for most of his time since.

Ross Piper’s family — including his wife, Malisa, and children, Alexandria, 7, and Aiden, 4 — comes first in his life.
Photo courtesy of Ross Piper

He moved with his family — wife, Malisa and two children —  in 2017 to the Twinwaters community. Alexandria, 7, attends Hamlin Elementary School, while Aiden, 4, attends Ladybird Academy in Winter Garden.

As the owner of Ross Piper Designs, Piper jokes he is an architect during the day and an artist at night.

When he comes home from work, he loves cooking dinner with his children and spending the evening with them before he works on his creative projects after the children are in bed.

Living and studying architecture, art and sculpting in Italy have shaped Piper’s art outlook and style. His unique, Pop Art-style yields 100% custom-made designs blending different media to fit his out-of-the-box approach to art and design. His art includes paintings, custom shoes, logos and label designs.

Piper also combines his love for cycling in his art. 

Cycling is one of Ross Piper's favorite hobbies, and he used to travel across the United States racing.
Photo courtesy of Ross Piper

Before his first child was born, he was involved in cycling racing and traveled throughout the United States to compete. 

Although he still trains and stays in shape, he has since stopped racing competitively. Instead, he now designs clothing, helmets and even shoes for cyclists.

Last year, Ventum Racing even composed a short video highlighting Piper and his life as a father, an artist and a cyclist. 

Through his art, Piper also is involved with charities, such as World Bicycle Relief, American Diabetes Association, Make A Wish and Pilot Me Fishing, where he has created pieces that are auctioned off at events or used as promotional items. 

“My art isn’t a paved lane,” he said. “I just sort of let it be what it wants to be in the most organic way possible. Once you apply an idea or strong storytelling to a work of art, it just makes it that much stronger.”


Piper’s outlook on life seems to have paid off. He is one of the masterminds behind Orange County Library System’s coming Horizon West Branch Library with Borrelli and Partners, the architectural design company selected for the project. 

Borrelli and Partners is a Florida-based corporation consisting of architects, planners, landscape architects and interior designers. The company’s portfolio spans diverse industries, including transportation, aviation, industrial, convention and performing arts, commercial and mixed-use, recreation and wellness, and medical/health care.

The firm also has designed other local projects, including the Dr. Phillips Ballfield Complex, which opened in April.

The new library branch currently is being planned in between Horizon West’s Town Center and the village of Bridgewater. It will be co-located with the future Horizon West Regional Park off Hamlin Groves Trail. 

Borrelli and Partners also is working on designing one of the buildings in the park. 

The new library branch currently is being planned in between Horizon West’s Town Center and the village of Bridgewater.
Rendering courtesy of OCLS

The new location will offer 20,000 square feet of library space, plus OCLS’ first planned outdoor events area. 

In addition, the library will include media labs, training, meeting and study rooms, and a children’s area. 

When Piper was working on sketching designs for the new library, he bounced ideas off his daughter and asked her what she felt was important for the community to have.

“It’s an amazing circumstance to have the opportunity to do this,” he said. “It may sound silly to ask advice from a first-grader, but that age group is one of the main target users for the library. During the interview when we won the project, that was one of the things I explained — that my family and I would be avid users of this library, this community space. My daughter was so excited when I explained to her what I would be doing. Seeing her excitement really translated into what this library is going to be and what it can offer. This is going to be amazing and something people can enjoy for years to come.”

Piper said the OCLS team is incredibly involved, excited and has genuine care for what they are hoping to create.

Construction on the library is expected to start this summer, and the library is estimated to open spring 2025.

“So much time, effort, and ups and downs go into these projects,” he said. “You’re trying so hard to just make them the best you can, but at the end of the day, when you see the children out there playing, or the first pitch thrown, or someone wholeheartedly enjoying something you put work into — none of that stuff matters. You forget it, because it’s not about you; it’s about the people who get the opportunity to use it. 

“For me, when I go into the library when it’s completed and see a family or a child enjoying a book or an elderly person taking a technology class, I’m going to shed a tear,” he said. “We as a team will have brought that to fruition from the creation of an idea. It’s not about the product; it’s about the people in our community.”

Ross Piper shares his love for art with his two children.
Photo courtesy of Ross Piper

Piper said District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson has been a supporter of not only the library’s journey, but his personal journey, as well. After meeting her at a few of the local ribbon cuttings and grand openings, he reached out to share his hopes of joining a county board.

He now is the District 1 representative for the Community Development Advisory Board.

“We have a mutual admiration for each other and the work we do,” he said of Wilson. “It’s a great holistic thing to be able to see the amazing things people are doing throughout all the different districts. It’s truly an honor to sit on the board.”

In the future, Piper said he would love to paint a mural and craft an art project inside one of the architecture projects his company is involved with creating. 

“Art is continuing to grow and having the opportunity to do cool things,” he said. “The same with architecture. Doing cool stuff that positively affects people. That’s what hits home for me.”

Ross Piper enjoys cooking and sharing recipes with his children.
Photo courtesy of Ross Piper



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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