Originally published in Interiors & Sources

06/22/2012

Branching Out

The newly designed West Hollywood Library by Johnson Favaro weaves together library, civic and community functions in a space that both respects the past and looks to the future—all while earning LEED Gold in the process.

By Robert Nieminen

 
  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_1.jpg

    As the first phase of the master plan for West Hollywood Park, the newly designed public library meets the citys goals for a larger, state-of-the-art facility and increased open park space. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_2.jpg

    As the first phase of the master plan for West Hollywood Park, the newly designed public library meets the citys goals for a larger, state-of-the-art facility and increased open park space. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_3.jpg

    The ceiling of abstract floral forms rendered in wood is contrasted by the literal sycamore tree installation by artist David Wiseman, which emerges from the walls of the main staircase and climbs 60 feet up to the skylight. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_4.jpg

    The ceiling of abstract floral forms rendered in wood is contrasted by the literal sycamore tree installation by artist David Wiseman, which emerges from the walls of the main staircase and climbs 60 feet up to the skylight. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_5.jpg

    The library features a monumental, hand-made bamboo coffered ceiling in a floral pattern inspired by photography by Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as the decorative arts during the Art Nouveau period. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_6.jpg

    The library communicates the idea that it is not merely a warehouse for storing books, but a place where architecture represents the value a community places on reading and literacy. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_7.jpg

    The 165-seat city council chambers on the ground floor also serves as a venue for community events. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_8.jpg

    Artist Shepard Faireys Peace, Freedom and Creativity mural in the lobby of the council chambers is a historic and architectural portrait of the city. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_9.jpg

    The white ceilings at the entrance mimic the floral patterns seen in the librarys wood ceiling and provide an introduction to the interiors. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_10.jpg

    View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0712/I_0712_Web_PE_WEHO_11.jpg

    View larger

SOURCES | CONTACT

 

In Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem, “Trees,” the author artfully expresses the beauty of nature’s form, and contrasts it to the inadequacy of human expression and verse. Yet, the connection between the written word and the natural world abounds within untold volumes of books lining the shelves of libraries across the globe.

It’s fitting, then, that the new West Hollywood Library, designed by Culver City, Calif.-based Johnson Favaro, was born in a park and bears the hallmarks of its natural surroundings. Charged with expanding the existing 5,000-square-foot library to a 32,000-square-foot facility within the city’s largest park—yet constrained by a city ordinance that forbids converting park space to any other use than recreation—the design team proposed a comprehensive master plan for West Hollywood Park at the city’s request.

“The point of the master plan was to give the city everything that it wanted, which was larger, state-of-the-art facilities, but also to actually increase park open space,” explains Steve Johnson, AIA, principal at Johnson Favaro. “We did that by essentially employing more urban strategies of stacking functions vertically, rather than spreading out horizontally.”

As the first phase of Johnson Favaro’s plan, the library’s mixed-use program has been stacked on a consolidated footprint, increasing adjacent open park space by 1.5 acres. The new library sits on the upper two floors of the three-story building, with the second floor lifted above the street level while at grade with the expanded park.

The ground floor of the building is home to West Hollywood’s 165-seat city council chambers, which was designed to double as a venue for community events and performances. The ground floor also houses the city’s public access television station; the Friends of the Library bookstore; and a sidewalk coffee shop that fronts San Vicente Boulevard, serving the library and the surrounding neighborhood businesses.

The upper level acts as the community living room, with all the various functions of a collections floor, including shelving for over 150,000 volumes, reference services, technology stations, group study rooms, printing services, readers’ seating and special collections. Designed to accommodate community-based programs and services, the second floor also includes the Wells Fargo Career Development Center, digital media collections, a 90-seat community meeting room, a teen resource and reading area, and a children’s library.

In an age of rapidly-advancing technology where information is literally available at everyone’s fingertips, Johnson recalls a number of people asking him during the design and construction of the project why the city was spending money on a library. According to Johnson, those who questioned the need for a new library overlooked its true function and meaning to the community.

“[A] library is more than just a bunch of books; it is truly a place where the community gathers. And in fact, it’s a place where architecture sort of represents the value they place on reading and literacy,” he explains.

The design team looked to some of the most notable reading rooms of the early 20th century—including those at the New York and Boston Public Libraries—for inspiration and help in communicating that a library is not merely a warehouse for storing books, but rather “an evocative place that really does prompt you to leave your computer terminal at home and join your neighbors in a building,” Johnson says.

Taking its cues from these iconic reading rooms, the West Hollywood Library features a monumental, hand-made bamboo coffered ceiling in a floral pattern of leaves, petals and vines that was inspired by photographic images by Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as the floral forms developed in the decorative arts during the Art Nouveau period. Johnson says the 3.5-foot-deep ceiling was an immense undertaking that would not have been possible to design and document without a computer, but was truly built by hand.

“If you witnessed the craftsmen who were actually shaping and bending and properly finishing all of those wood pieces—which really do come in in pieces—you really can’t appreciate that there is no machine out there that simply stamps a ceiling like that. This really is the 21st century’s version of wood-carving craftsmen that date back for centuries,” he says.

In keeping with the city’s moniker as the “Creative City,” the library is home to two major interior art installations by renowned artists Shepard Fairey—best known for his iconic President Obama “Hope” poster—and David Wiseman. Fairey’s “Peace, Freedom and Creativity” mural in the lobby of the council chambers is a historic and architectural portrait of the city, while Wiseman’s “Plantus bibliotechalis” sycamore tree installation brings the park indoors, emerging from the walls of the main staircase and climbing 60 feet up to the skylight.

“Whereas our ceiling is somewhat abstract floral forms rendered in wood, [Wiseman] made an actual tree form all in white, kind of imagining that there was an ancient tree that existed where the library was being built,” says Johnson.

The connection to (and respect for) nature is expressed not only in the language of art, but also in the architecture and design of the space. Having earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, 96 percent of the library’s construction waste was diverted from landfills and more than 25 percent of all construction materials were sourced locally. The majority of wood used for the project is from renewable, sustainably-managed forests.

Other sustainable features include: a photovoltaic system; use of low-emitting materials for paints, coatings and carpeting; optimized energy performance systems for lighting, heating and ventilation; sustainable vegetation; and the use of green housekeeping products.

Standing in stark contrast to the natural aesthetic of the surrounding library is perhaps the most striking space within the project: The Children’s Storytime Theater. Contained in an enormous plywood shipping crate, the Theater serves as a unique theater-within-a-library for storytelling, puppet shows and displays. The space evokes the first library of the Italian Renaissance—Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library—and exposes children to the classical language of architecture, says Johnson.

“We’re of the attitude that if you don’t bring these things forward in your own work in architecture and art, over a couple of generations, it’s lost forever,” he suggests. “But we do think it was an interesting counterpoint to do the room as a fun teaching moment for children in the middle of this contemporary library.”

Ultimately, however, the library is neither modern nor traditional, according to firm principal Jim Favaro, AIA. “It neither waxes nostalgic about yesterday nor pretends to determine a future over which we have no control. As a building that belongs to the community, its architecture has been crafted to project civility, hospitality, creativity and durability in a way that nevertheless reflects the way we aspire to live now—relaxed not formal, tempered not hysterical, dignified not pompous,” he says.

“We oblige ourselves and the community we serve to create an architecture that is of its time and that will stand the test of time.”

 

 

SOURCES:
back to top

1
2
3
4
 
5
6
7
8
 

AUTO COURT
composite metal panel
Weiss Sheet Metal
(310) 354-2700


lighting
Leucos
(732) 225-0010


paint
Glidden Professional
(951) 232-9208


stone
Serena Marble
(818) 834-8544


wood ceiling
SMI Architectural Millwork
(714) 567-0112


CHILDREN’S storytime THEATER
carpet
J+J Invision
(800) 241-4586


flooring
Anderson


lighting
Focal Point
(773) 247-9494


paint
Glidden Professional


paneling
SMI Architectural Millwork


COUNCIL CHAMBERS
lighting
LiteLab
(800) 238-4120


millwork
SMI Architectural Millwork

 

paint
Glidden Professional

projection screen
Draper
(765) 987-7999


seating
American Seating
(616) 732-6600


COUNCIL CHAMBERS
(LOBBY)

composite metal panel
Weiss Sheet Metal


glazing
Sunguard/Sashco
(909) 937-8222


paint
Glidden Professional


sliding doors
Stanley | 8
(909) 628-9272


stone
Serena Marble


LOBBY
flooring
Anderson


lighting
Focal Point


paint
Glidden Professional

Perfetto, Inc./Metallic Mart


stone desk/floor
Serena Marble


MAIN STAIRCASE
lighting
Lumiere | 4
paint
Glidden Professional

skylight
Acralight International
(714) 258-7022


wood flooring
Anderson


THIRD FLOOR
carpet
J+J Invision


chairs
Keilhauer | 2
(800) 724-5665


paint
Glidden Professional


shelving
Worden/Yamada
(714) 843-9882


wood desk/room exterior
SMI Architectural Millwork


THIRD-FLOOR (SEATING AREA)
bamboo ceiling
SMI Architectural Millwork | 1


carpet
J+J Invision | 7


chairs
Arper
+39 0422 7918

Keilhauer


composite metal panel
Weiss Sheet Metal


lighting
Lighting Services Inc.
(800) 999-9574

 

paint
Glidden Professional


shelving
Worden/Yamada | 6


stone flooring
Serena Marble | 3


tables
Coalesse | 5
(312) 467-1783

Matin Brattrud
(323) 770-4171


THIRD-FLOOR (VIEW)
bamboo ceiling
SMI Architectural
Millwork


chairs
Arper

Keilhauer


composite metal panel
Weiss Sheet Metal


glazing
Sunguard/Sashco


library carrels
Worden/Yamada


library side chair
Dakota Jackson
(310) 659-7424


paint
Glidden Professional


stone flooring
Serena Marble


tables
Coalesse

CONTACT:
back to top

client
city of west hollywood/ county of los angeles public library
625 N. San Vicente Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 652-5340

project team
architect
Johnson Favaro
5898 Blackwelder Street
Ground Floor
Culver City, CA
(310) 559-5720
www.johnsonfavaro.com

interior designer
Carol Cambianica

library planning
Linda Demmers

 

 

 

project manager
Heery International

general contractor
W.E. O’Neil

structural engineer
Englekirk

meo engineer
M-E Engineers

civic engineer
KPFF

acoustics
McKay Conant Hoover

landscape
EPT Deisgn

graphics/signage
Follis Design

audio-visual/information technology
Waveguide

lighting
Lightvision

foodservice
Kitchen Professionals

cost & sustainability
Davis Langdon

energy model
Brummitt

traffic
Iteris

parking
Walker Parking

photography
Benny Chan/fotoworks

 

 

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


 
comments powered by Disqus

Related Products

Sponsored Links