The City of Sacramentos goal from the beginning of the project was to deliver a distinctive, flexible, high-performance branch library to this under-served yet growing community. The library is sited at an intersection unique within the neighborhood: high density multi-family housing to one side, Consumnes River Community College across the street, a new 10-acre park to the south, and retail and freeways within eyesight. The branch library seeks to give an anchoring presence to this corner, while also being practical, sustainable, and low maintenance.
The design began as diagram inspired by light. While walking the site, the designer sketched a V-shaped roof that rose up to embrace natural light on both the north and south sides. From that initial inspiration, the design team created a vibrant, welcoming building that mimics the shape of an open book and lets in as much natural light as possible, reducing the need for artificial lighting and fostering an environment conducive to learning.
Inside, the brightly painted steel spine of the book organizes the spaces and orients patrons, giving views into distinct spaces for children and teens, three group study areas, a learning center, and a computer lab with internet and word processing. Generous spaces include a community meeting room that can accommodate as many as 100 people and a fun yellow caf pod for refreshments and socializing.
Certified LEED Gold, the library exceeds standards for sustainability in a civic building. By taking an innovative approach to concrete tilt-up construction, traditionally an efficient and rapid method of building warehouses and other commercial buildings in the area, the design team was able to deliver an exceptionally high-performance building in an economical fashion. This innovation involved inserting insulation into the large concrete slabs to increase their thermal mass. This application was without precedent. The architects won a design team incentive grant from the local Sacramento utility companys Savings by Design program to commission additional modeling analyses, proving this methods high thermal capabilities. The thermal mass feature is enhanced by the addition of a mixed-mode displacement ventilation system that allows natural air to cool the building at night.
As a result of these sustainable design elements, the Valley Hi North Laguna Library exceeds California Energy Code Title 24 by 34 percent. Its light-filled design, punctuated by a cheerful red tower that marks the childrens reading room, provides a welcoming landmark in the community.