Calabazas Library

The Calabazas Branch Library is a bright, contemporary building located in west San Jose. The site enjoys nature on three sides – Rodeo Creek and the Community Garden adjacent, and Calabazas Park across the street. The arrival sequence is designed through the generous entry plaza specifically planted on the west side as part of a passive shading solution for west facing spaces and shading for patrons reading outside. From this Plaza, patrons are greeted by a welcoming and dramatic volume – the main marketplace form reaching out through a collage of colored glazing. This volume forms an entry overhang, its large colorful glass area will bring filtered daylight into the high volume marketplace, and will glow like a welcoming lantern in evenings when lit from within.

The building is crisp in its architectural forms, and imparts an engaging sense of fun. Super-graphic letters inform passers-by that language is important here – “aBc” at the children’s end of the building, and a corresponding “xYz” facing the entry plaza from the community room. The street and plaza are engaged by specifically crafted views into these spaces, around and through the translucent letters which also serve as shading devices for west facing glazing. The building interior is organized around the marketplace, accented with the the tall entry volume with light streaming in. From here, major destinations are easily identifiable. The children’s gateway plays on the ‘language’ vocabulary established with the exterior letters. A large suspended exclamation point serves as a way-finder drawing the youngest patrons into the story telling space. The main view through the marketplace terminates at the north end of the building, featuring a fireplace in the living room, and large north facing glazing areas with views to the community garden. Immediately adjacent the marketplace, and opposite the children’s area is the teen room and internet café. Daylight is captured here, with large windows overlooking the creek.

SIZE: 10,400 SF

LOCATION: San Jose, California

DATE COMPLETED: November 2012