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
Project Area: 29,240 sqm
Structural: Ingraham DeJesse Associates
Landscape: Joni L. Janecki Associates
Project Manager Design: Dannielle Sergent
Project Manager Construction: Abraham Jayson
Nestled at the foot of a wooded hillside, the two-story, 30,250-square-foot Los Gatos Library provides a visual connection between the Town’s historic Pageant Park and the adjacent Civic Center. The design concept is based on the lantern, which in architectural terms suggests an open, light-filled structure. Daytime illumination optimizes the use of natural daylight, with glazing on the north wall, skylights at the stairway well, veiled glazing on the south wall, 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 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.