Positioned at the heart of Downtown Long Beach, the new Billie Jean King Main Library serves as a traditional library and a modern, technology-focused hub for the community. The two-story timber building welcomes over one thousand daily visitors and offers numerous activities that foster connection, learning, and collaboration.
Working with a tight budget, the open interiors incorporate multiuse, flexible spaces that allow visitors of all ages to participate in solo and collaborative activities. Extensive interior finishes were omitted in lieu of exposing the timber structure and most of the mechanical, electrical, and fire safety systems. Selected materials and visible building systems perform both functionally and aesthetically, creating a welcoming, warm, and visually stimulating interior environment.
Interior spaces are organized around a central, triple-story atrium that provides an enhanced sense of porosity and lightness. The entry-level welcomes visitors inside and transforms over the course of a day to accommodate a variety of functions, including exhibitions, workshops, and social events. The main level also features sizeable open spaces dedicated to children’s literature and activities organized by age. Each space is designed for social interaction, play, and learning.
Computers, book collections, and quiet reading areas are available for use on the second level. Dispersed around the floorplate’s exterior perimeter are lounge spaces with unobstructed views of Lincoln Park and the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to staff offices and a dedicated teen space, the second floor offers, graphics studio, film studio, and makerspace with 3D print shop.
The library superstructure is comprised of exposed-glue, laminated, heavy timber members. Timber was selected for its light weight, architectural warmth, and character. The building’s envelope maximizes daylight and views while mitigating glare and solar radiation. The tranquil atmosphere is enhanced by an open interior filled with natural daylight and the warmth of the exposed wood finish.
Credits: - SOM - Design Director - Jose Palacios - SOM - Structural Director - Eric Long - SOM - Managing Director - Jed Zimmerman - SOM - Design Partner - Paul Danna - SOM - Structural Partner - Mark Sarkisian - Fotoworks - Photographer - Benny Chan - SOM - Managing Partner - Michael Mann