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2016 MCHAP

Pico Branch Library

Julie Eizenberg

Santa Monica, CA, USA

April 2014


Julie Eizenberg/ Koning Eizenberg Architecture Nathan Bishop/Koning Eizenberg


Spurlock-Poirier (Landscape Architect) RC Construction (Constractor) Glumac (MEP)


City of Santa Monica


Eric Staudenmaier


Conceived through a series of five interactive public workshops, a concept for a community living room evolved. This addressed interest in an informal environment that would attract those not normally comfortable in institutional settings. Community members also drove form by strong interest in preserving valued park space, which resulted in a long, thin building that jumps a fire lane to fulfill program requirements. This move further engages existing buildings that offer programs for teens, children, job seekers and seniors.


This public library engages its park setting (designed by the same firm in 2002) to encourage use of an educational resource in a socio-economically diverse neighborhood with a persistent achievement gap. The library was the first new branch library to be built in Santa Monica in over a decade, and city library staff were keen to use design to propel thinking about a branch library’s role and potential- rethinking service style to address community interests and attract teens and children. The city was also keen to use the opportunity to demonstrate aspirational, sustainable practices.


In the library’s first six months, 100,000 materials were checked out, 84,000 library users visited, and 1,200 new borrowers were welcomed, and the library is well-used throughout the day. Staff and visitors comment on the sense of welcome and ease, light quality, uniqueness, and connection to the landscape. Strong indoor/outdoor connectivity and glare free lighting are achieved through daylight harvesting and passive shading, an integrated sustainable design approach which sets the library's architectural identity. Skylights and a carved ceiling amplify light to define a distinctive roof and ceiling shape while deep overhangs and canopies shade the glass from all direct sunlight, reducing heat gain and eliminating the need for any indoor window shades. Outside, this shading establishes a hovering presence while the photovoltaic shade canopy and pergola tails add pattern and detail to the design. The library is certified LEED Platinum, and includes the first rainwater harvesting system providing grey water re-use in Los Angeles County.

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