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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

New Bay Area Libraries Offer a Glimpse of What America Should Be

San Francisco Chronicle Urban Design Critic John King explores the recently completed Pleasant Hill Library.

"[Pleasant Hill Library] excels on multiple levels, including as an environmental showcase."
John King, San Francisco Chronicle Urban Design Critic

Pleasant Hill Library is the city’s first new civic building in many years, and was designed to provide a welcoming place for the community to learn, create, and explore together. In a recent article, the Chronicle’s Urban Design Critic John King described the essential role public libraries play as shared institutions that are both rooted in tradition and responsive to the evolving needs of their communities. Pleasant Hill Library, as well as recent projects in Atherton and Brisbane, provide healthy, open, and supportive environments that invite the public in to participate in a range of activities – whether it’s reading quietly or learning to use a 3D printer. As Patrick Remer, Pleasant Hill Library’s manager, adds in the article, “it’s about learning in all its forms.”

King also notes the “airy residential tone” and significant sustainability strategies of the libraries, as well as new approaches to organizing and showcasing books throughout. “Step inside and you’re greeted by two things: books and space,” King writes. “The books begin with six large tables just beyond the entrance, many of the volumes laid flat so their covers can catch your eye. The space is the inviting expanse beyond, the ceiling sliding higher as the room opens wide — your gaze drawn to the large windows facing south but also upward, where enormous fans turn slowly below round skylights.”

Our practice collaborated with Swinerton Management and Consulting, BHM Construction, Einwiller Kuehl Landscape Architecture, Margaret Sullivan Studios, Rutherford & Chekene, Introba, Auerbach Glasow, Sherwood Engineers, and Etsuki Creative on the library. Read the article and learn more about the project below.