BRANCH LIBRARY |
2008 AIA Santa Clara Valley Design Awards,
Award of Honor
Since its opening, the new Hillview Branch Library has become an instant neighborhood landmark as well as an important asset to this area of San Jose, a highly diverse community in multiple aspects: culture, ethnicity and age groups. The project replaces a much smaller, aging and functionally obsolete facility located a few blocks away. A unique partnership between two public agencies, the city and the school district, allows the new structure to be built on a portion of an existing public school. The library provides greatly enriched resources to the students of its host school as well as to help steer these youths toward productive after-school activities.
As part of a citywide library improvement program, the library shares the common goal of being friendly to its surroundings, yet commanding a strong civic presence. An additional goal for this project is to distinguish the structure visually from its host school. The exterior of the building is animated by highly varied massing and a rich palette of colors. Flanking stone walls supporting a curved canopy announce the library’s main entrance, while a cylindrical rotunda in the background signals the building’s focal point on the inside. Interior activities are visible through the glazed entrance wall, providing for a connection between the inside and outside. To the right of the entrance, the separate community room is identified by a curving glass block wall with a barrel metal roof above.
The building’s interiors aim to create a very comfortable atmosphere, not unlike that of large, trendy, commercial bookstores. This is no longer your grandparent’s library, where quietness reigns as patrons concentrate on their tomes! Instead, we have a “market place” under the rotunda featuring the latest releases, a children’s area where toddlers are encouraged to roam and explore, a teen center for those aspiring adults and finally, a true symbol of the 21st century: an internet café! Vibrant colors and richly textured materials abound to delineate each area and to create a friendly and accessible environment.
Since many community members worked in the region’s historic agricultural industry, celebrating this farming heritage became a key design element. In collaboration with Bay Area-based artist Amy Trachtenberg, interior details of the rotunda borrow from local agriculture: rising from a base of tractor tires, columns are clad with old growth redwood milled from harvest vessels, stainless steel and madrone branches; above, a series of paintings echoing the patterns and hues of the labored earth encircle the upper rotunda.
Sustainable design elements include: bio-swales, storm water detention pond, reduced heat island effect, zero light pollution, low irrigation water usage, superior thermal envelope, superior HVAC performance (30% above ASHRAE), non-HCFC refrigeration system, construction waste recycling, recycled content building materials, local material sources, indoor air quality control both during and after construction, and day-lighting.