Suspended reading

14 Sep 2012

Noll & Tam Architects create a new library of spaces in Los Gatos, California

Nestled at the foot of a wooded hillside, the two-story, Los Gatos Library provides a visual connection between the towns historic Pageant Park and the adjacent Civic Center. The library has just been completed recently and has its design concept is based on the lantern, an open, light-filled structure.  Daytime illumination optimizes the use of natural daylight, with elements such as roof lights in the corridors and use of louvers to bounce light into the library.  At night, white and colored artificial light allows visibility from the street and views into the library.

The site beside a steeply graded hillside, so building footprint options were limited. In order to maximize the site, the architects designed a rectilinear building with a cantilevered "pop-out" to break up the static shape. The materials and exterior colour take inspiration from surrounding natural elements and buildings.

Inside, the low lobby ceiling opens suddenly onto the two-story main staircase, giving a sense of airiness and arrival. This stair is the central focus of the library and a feature design element. An etched glass art installation by Sheri Simons decorates the back wall of the staircase, alternating transparent and frosted panels and graphic elements.

While the open floor plan celebrates large spaces, the design also incorporates more intimate reading areas. Special attention was given to design elements that make each program space unique. A moveable window wall opens onto a patio, creating an outside room in the warmer months.

Entering the children's area, visitors find themselves beneath an undulating starry sky, with glowing back-lit cutouts of celestial swirls and planets. On the rear wall, recycled transparent plastic has been fashioned into luminescent circular artwork by Benjamin Phipps. The design team is aiming for a LEED Gold certification, emphasizing visible sustainable systems and educational display features.

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