Monday, July 20, 2009

Silver Lake: The new library exposed.



Curbed LA (top photo from Curbed) got an exclusive sneak peek at the Silver Lake Library. It's looking rather clean, bright and modern; an homage in part to nearby Neutra houses and the Neutra Office building on Glendale. Looking forward to opening day which should be sometime in September though there's no official date. I wrote about the design back in 2006 for the Los Feliz Ledger. Here's an excerpt:
Coming in 2008 (that didn't happen) to the corner of Silver Lake and Glendale Boulevards: a new branch library that will not only be a community and cultural hub but also an inventive “green” building at one of the most traveled gateways to the area.
After investigating several alternate sites in the neighborhood, the city’s library construction department selected the vacant corner, once a gas station and most recently, the seasonal home to a Delancey Street Christmas tree lot. Previously, both Burger King and Walgreens had also considered the tract. In addition to the empty parcel, the adjacent mustard-colored auto shop will be demolished (that happened, thankfully), contributing 7000 square feet to the library’s future home.
Similar in size to the Edendale branch library, Silver Lake’s 13,200 square foot state-of-the-art library will include a public meeting room, a glass box reading room, welcoming plaza, and will be “green” – utilizing sustainable building practices such as solar power. (Panels are installed). Parking will be underground with the garage entrance lined up with Brier Avenue and Gingergrass’ main entrance. There will be no public driveway off congested Silver Lake Boulevard.
Architectural firm M2A Architects worked closely with the community developing the Silver Lake branch, their fifth library project. The Arroyo Seco Regional Branch Library is one of their designs, as are the Allessandro Apartments in nearby Echo Park. “We tried to take architectural cues from modernist Silver Lake,” explains architect Barry Milofsky of the design. “There is a sense of light, air and space and an indoor/outdoor relationship.” Stone and glass will be the branch’s primary construction materials. A glass spine extends through the building that will provide natural light in the day and a dramatic glow to the plaza at night. Mature sycamore trees will frame the library’s entrance. Low planters, benches and landscape finishes to the curb are part of the plan from landscape architect Mia Lehrer.
Construction is expected take 18 months and is slated to start by the first quarter of 2007. (Start date was later; construction still ongoing). Budget for the building is $9.5 million, with funding from library bond funds. A non-profit Friends of the Silver Lake Library has been established to help further the library’s collection as well to support and generate enthusiasm for the long-awaited branch.