This neighborhood library, the first of two libraries designed by Hodgetts+Fung for the Los Angeles Public Library System, is situated adjacent to a remote industrial area of the city, surrounded by modest stucco bungalows, strip malls, and recycling yards, and framed by the majestic profile of the San Gabriel Mountain Range.
HplusF conducted workshops with a community review panel during the design of this Library. A close collaboration between the architect, the City and the community has insured the architect's intent of creating a library for the community. The design for the new 12,500 square foot library reflects the relationship between the library's functions, program and context.
In keeping with the changing functions of Libraries throughout the world, the neighborhood Library system has repositioned its core mission to one nearer that of a Community Center than that of an information center. It is the intangibles of community pride, stability, and identity which lend meaning to the project, and to our effort on the community’s behalf.
Three reading rooms, specifically designed for children, for young adults, and for mature patrons, are arranged around the space with direct sight lines to the desk. Barbara Strasen, an artist known for her work with lenticular imagery, created the animated images of insects, sea creatures, and time-lapse floral blooms which form the ceiling of the Children's Reading room and are visible from the street through a large "viewing window".
The goal of the design was a mix of references as casual as the tenor of life on a Sylmar sidewalk, a civic building that is unexpectedly light and unselfconscious, rather than one that demands attention or seeks to dominate the patron’s experience. The aim was to design a structure that spoke to the land, to the industry of its inhabitants, and to the future of their community.
“The industrial-type materials give the library a legibility and translucence, while the syncopated structure, with its shifting steel framing, varies the spatial experience in the vertical dimension. At the same time, the solution manages to respond straightforwardly to the program, with imagination instead of gimmickry.” -Suzanne Stephens