The Challenge. To make an art sanctuary 75 feet in the air that references the city below it, the great cultural institution inspiring it, and the magnificent sculpture within it. To integrate the disparate forces of the museum itself, the site, and the neighboring urban context. To create an architecture of order and repose that animates, without overwhelming, the art it serves.
Winner of a national competition, our design uplifts the community library's traditional role as a temple of knowledge while modernizing its personality as a digital-age center of independent learning. A gathering place for the diverse population of San Francisco's Ingleside neighborhood, the library's animated facade announces the vibrant community life within.
Facing a heavily commercial street, the L-shaped building adheres to the urban grid. Two large, independently floating forms frame its main entry: the boxy volume of the library's program room and the egg shape of the children's reading room-the composition's focal point. The reading room's bay window-a glowing beacon of glass-advertises the value and accessibility of literacy for all.
A high canopy roof, hovering twenty feet above the entrance, creates an iconic profile for the one-story structure, establishing its civic presence and distinction on the street as a public building. The canopy's blue underside, a virtual second sky, is uplit at night, subtly communicating the library's message of ambition and aspiration.
Within are four distinct groups of spaces. In addition to the children's reading room, the main reading room is a grand-scale public hall that speaks to the classical model of libraries. Its sculpted ceiling pours in light from above through dramatic skylights. Quiet, intimate carrels for reading, relaxing, and computer use face a rear courtyard and garden, allowing both indoor/outdoor flow and flexibility for the library's potential expansion. Diffuse light filtered through the wood and glass ceiling and through sun-shaded windows-creates a quiet ambiance. Finally, the services gallery (consisting of the workroom, manager's office, and staff lounge) essentially forms a separate wing facing a residential street. This placement buffers the learning spaces and provides professional, private workspaces for the staff.
Throughout, durable eco-friendly materials lower maintenance costs while providing visual and tactile delights. Metal louvers and sunshades, mahogany-framed study nooks, tile, and glass all give the library a beauty appropriate to its high civic purpose.