Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
- Area: 93500 ft²
- Year: 2019
- Som Team: Paul Danna, FAIA, Design Partner. Jose Palacios, AIA, Design Director. Jed Zimmerman, AIA, LEED AP, DBIA, Managing Director. Michael Mann, FAIA, Managing Director. Masis Mesropian, AIA, Senior Designer. M. Zarmine Nigohos, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Project Architect. Steve Zimmerman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Technical Designer. Roshanak Mostaghim, LEED AP BD+C, Technical Designer. Wilfredo Lima, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Technical Designer. David Renken, AIA, LEED AP, Interior Designer. Houston Drum, AIA, LEED AP. Frank Castillo. Jordan Gearhart. Isshin Morimoto. Joanna Lam. Jennifer Williams, ASLA, LEED AP. Sally Drum. Mark Sarkisian, PE, SE, LEED AP, Structural Partner. Eric Long, PE, SE, Structural Director. John Gordon, SE, CEng MIStructE, Senior Structural Engineer. Benton Johnson, PE, SE, Timber Specialist. Abel Díaz Valdés, PE, SE, ICCP, Project Structural Engineer. Samantha Walker, PE, SE, Structural Designer and Machine Learning Specialist. Rebecca Delany, PE, LEED AP, Sustainability Lead. Arathi Gowda, AIA, AICP, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainability Lead
- Client : City of Long Beach
- Developer : Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners
- Civil: KPFF Consulting
- Engineers Mep: Syska Hennessy Group
- Library Programming: Linda Demmers
- Landscape: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol
- Lighting: HLB Lighting Design
- Acoustics: Newson Brown Acoustics
- Fire/Life Safety: Jensen Hughes
- Vertical Transportating: Syska Hennessy Group
- Roofing/Waterproofing: Curtainwall Design Consulting
- Wood Scientist: : Ron Anthony
- Parking: International Parking Design
- Operations And Maintenanc: Johnson Controls
- General Contractor : Clark Construction Group
- Project Financier : Plenary Group
- Project Developer : Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate
- City: Long Beach
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. The new Billie Jean King Main Library is more than a traditional library of decades past. Positioned at the heart of Downtown Long Beach, it is designed to provide a welcoming and flexible environment that now serves more than 1,000 daily visitors. The state-of-the-art, structural timber building features distinct and identifiable interior spaces that maximize square footage and enhance user accessibility and staff efficiency. It also offers a rich program of activities in which reading and browsing through bookstacks are only a small part of the experience.
To lure the community inside, the library features a variety of amenity spaces, such as a family learning center, children’s reading room, veterans’ resource center, and multipurpose rooms with their own separate entrances; the building also houses makerspaces with capabilities for film editing, 3-D printing, and robotics. On top of all that, visitors can peruse two-floors of shelves that hold more than 300,000 books, including what Mayor Robert Garcia called “one of the largest comics and graphic novel collections in Southern California.”
After passing through a dramatic two-story light well that opens to the sky, visitors are welcomed into a large central atrium—topped with a generous clerestory—that provides the interiors with an enhanced sense of porosity and abundant natural light. The space feels like an expansive pavilion, with extensive sightlines throughout and soft illumination permeating the adjacent reading rooms, studios, and bookstacks. It also transforms over the course of a day, accommodating workshops, social gatherings, exhibits, and public events.
Just off the atrium’s main level are the children’s literature area and an enclosed, temperature-controlled room that houses the library’s special collections, which consists of rare texts dating back to the 15th century, a rich selection of fine arts volumes, and more. Computers, quiet reading areas, a dedicated teen zone, and makerspaces are available for use on the second floor, as well as lounge seating along the perimeter’s full height glazing that offers occupants unobstructed views of the adjoining Lincoln Park and surrounding neighborhood.
With an expansive wood-framed “porch” that greets the community, a diverse set of interior spaces and activities, and a name that pays homage to the local native and famed athlete known for the power of her serves and volleys, the Billie Jean King Main Library is an inviting beacon for the City of Long Beach.