Architects: Noll & Tam Architects Location: Los Gatos, California, United States Project Team: Christopher Noll, AIA, PIC Project Designer : Matthew Wadlund Project Architect : Tad Costerison, AIA Signage Designer: Matthew Williams Design Interiors Architect: Trina Goodwin Lighting: Illuminosa Lighting Design Project Year: 2012 Photographs: David Wakely
The site is at the edge of the existing Civic Center and abuts a steeply graded hillside, so building footprint options were limited. To eke out the maximum possible square footage, the architects designed a rectilinear building, then added cantilevered “pop-out” elements to break up the static shape. The steel-frame building is clad with stone veneer, porcelain tile, a wood veneer composite panel rainscreen, honeycomb core aluminum panels, and an aluminum solar shading system. The materials and exterior colors 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. The periodicals reading room, located behind the stairwell on the main floor, has a dark-paneled clubby adult atmosphere, with a gas-lit fireplace. A moveable window wall opens onto a patio, creating an outside room in the warmer months. Off the main floor lobby, a brightly colored sign denotes the children’s library. 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. Smaller circles act as wall sconces, while larger circles are recessed to serve as reading nooks. A door to the outside leads to a secret garden, where larger-than-life books sculpted in cement represent favorite classic children’s literature.
Like a hip treehouse, the teen area is located on the second floor in the cantilevered “pop-out,” which gives it views to outside as well as visibility from the street. Teen lounge-style seating offers a group gathering area. The ceiling is detailed with Interlam, painted a vibrant red. The second floor also features a Local History Center, with exhibit cases and a video screen to display artifacts of note.
The design team is aiming for a LEED Gold certification, emphasizing visible sustainable systems and educational display features.