Tustin Library

In Orange County, California, the city of Tustin outgrew its 1970s-era library building and decided that they needed a larger, state-of-the-art replacement. The new 32,000 square-foot library, which is now the largest branch of the Orange County Public Library, more than doubles the size of its predecessor. The single story building completes the Tustin Civic Center, creating a new landscaped civic plaza at the site of the old library, which is used for outdoor programs and other community gatherings.

The new library is oriented along an east-west axis in order to maximize opportunities for large north facing windows to provide natural daylight to the entire main space. Patrons enter beneath a skylit canopy, into a marketplace area at the center of building, which features new books and other popular media, self-service access to books on hold, and a large information desk. Two distinct wings flank this center area, one housing the adult library, the other the childrens areas. The lower blocks on the entry side of the building house staff workrooms, the teen zone, two community meeting rooms, and a friends bookstore. Along the north face, lower rooms set into the tall glass wall house the quiet room, a homework center, and the storytelling alcove.

The roof of the large central space of the library slopes up from south to north, orienting patrons to large windows along the entire north wall, with fritted glass to allow filtered daylight in the smaller openings along the south side. Three large perforated metal clouds are suspended from from the ceiling to help define the childrens area as a special place within the overall building, and custom curved bookcases and seating reflect the forms of the clouds above. Parents and kids pass through a bright orange moon arch into a special corner room for storytelling programs and puppet shows.

Because the views out from the north side of the building were not very attractive, the main seating areas have been oriented around a series of three distinct enclosed patios, each one relating to the adjacent collections and open to the public. Topiary trees and concrete scrolls bearing quotes from famous authors decorate the patios, and each is furnished distinctly.

Two multi-purpose community rooms are available for library programs and rental by other community groups. The large room has a small catering kitchen, and a sophisticated audio-visual system, with a drop down overhead digital projector, and a full array of equipment for special programs. The skylit corridor leading to the multipurpose room serves as a community art gallery, and serves as a second entry from the civic plaza. The staff spaces all have operable windows and skylights to bring in daylight and natural ventilation.

Sustainable design features include an underfloor air distribution system, highly efficient lighting with daylight sensitive dimmer controls, and the extensive use of recycled materials.


Project Type


345 East Main Street, Tustin, 92780,