The Pico Branch Library offers not only a meaningful aesthetic presence nestled in the Virginia Avenue Park of Santa Monica, but a paradigm shift to community collaboration and education.
Consideration of the existing context and community assets and needs underline this project’s development process, challenging traditional methods of design and redefining the concept of what a library could be in the 21st Century.
A design process that encouraged public participation through a series of workshops, and a thoughtful preservation of existing green space and repurposing of underutilised areas, has succeeded in reinvigorating the Park, fostering a reconnection with institutional resources and overall community empowerment.
The Library’s direct engagement with and facilitation of community events has earned it the affectionate title as the ‘community living room’.
External expression incorporates a subtle material palette, accentuated by variations in material tactility and bright colours. A playful and distinctive roof profile with unreserved overhangs hovers amongst existing greenery, delicately forging the Library’s architectural identity.
Internally, spaces offer an environment that inspires learning, contemplation and creativity. Beautifully folding ceiling planes, carved to reveal sunlight through a succession of skylights, underpin the spatial experience. Expanses of glazing evoke a pavilion-like openness to interior spaces, with careful control of natural light ensuring glare and heat gain are avoided.
A thoughtful and elegant approach embodies all elements of the projects architectural expression. Its deeply-rooted community consideration, finely crafted spaces and an honest response to context makes the Pico Branch Library a piece of public architecture the community of Santa Monica can be proud of.