Designed by architects Moore Ruble Yudell, the approachably scaled, light-filled Santa Monica Public Library is affectionately known as the “Living Room of the City.” The 110,000 square foot building achieved LEED Gold certification and incorporates a broad spectrum of sustainable features.
Taking inspiration from the nearby Pacific Ocean and maximizing the qualities of the local climate, the landscape of the library reinforces relationships between people, community, and environment. A bow-shaped central courtyard features a garden of drought-tolerant plant materials including aeonium, agave, red yucca, and San Marcos yellow clivia. The courtyard’s hardscaped patio with sculptural glass pergola and ample, movable seating accommodates the adjoining library café. Paving and planting palettes subtly suggest the colors and textures of an underwater marine habitat. Several pocket gardens with plant and tree species including Jerusalem sage, Natal plum, and California fan palms are interspersed at the parking lot, secondary entryways, and around the border of Santa Monica Boulevard and 7th Street. Burton’s design intermixes interior and exterior, shade and shadow, conceived as a metaphor for light revealing the ocean world beneath the surface, in the same way libraries bring knowledge to light.
Throughout the landscape, drought-tolerant plant materials, bio-swales, and a rainwater harvesting and reuse system were used to support sustainability and compatibility with the region’s dry coastal climate. A 200,000-gallon cistern underneath the building collects and filters rainwater from the roof and parking lot, which is pumped through a drip-irrigation system to the garden areas.