Los Gatos Library | Noll & Tam Architects

| 10 : 00 – 12 June 2018 |


Los Gatos Library, Glass and stone exterior, Building photography

Inspired by a lantern, Los Gatos Public Library designed by Berkeley based Noll & Tam Architects is a visual delightful building which glows from within.

A subtle combination of stone, concrete, wood and glass on its exterior brings in natural daylight into the interior spaces of the library. Located along hillside and partially below grade, the LEED Gold certified building’s atrium has custom designed lighting fixtures. The simple rectangular form of the library helped designers choose high-quality materials and finishes enabling it to stand out amongst its surroundings. Colour changing glass band running along the exteriors of second floor integrated with LED lighting, adds color, drama and style to the dynamic exteriors.


Stone, concrete and wood building exterior, Los Gatos library

Glass windows, stone, wood veneer exteriors

From the Architects – 


Nestled at the foot of a wooded hillside, the new Los Gatos Public Library is a key element within a master plan that strengthens the connection between the town’s civic center and historic Pageant Park. With its rectangular form, the two-story public library complements the adjacent 1960s Civic Center, an elegant masonry building split into quadrants and located partially below grade. “We wanted to create a connection with, and a contrast to, the existing 1960s-era Civic Center building,” notes Chris Noll, FAIA, Principal in Charge and co-founder of Noll & Tam.



Site Plan © Noll & Tam Architects


The inspiration for the nearly 30,000-square-foot library is a lantern, a welcoming symbol to the community, and a visual play on the rich “enlightened” world within. During the day, glazing on the north and south walls invites sunlight in, creating a warm natural glow. At night, artificial illumination projects outward, turning the library into a beacon that anchors the neighborhood—a literal light in the woods.


Lighting effect in library at evening

The building glows from within in the evening

Atrium – 

The 35-foot-high lobby atrium brings in plenty of daylight and features a two-story staircase. It has symbols of letters, phrases, musical notations, scientific formulas and information mapping etched into two-story translucent glass panels.


Atrium, Wide wooden staircase in library

Atrium with customized lighting fixtures


Custom-designed wood veneer lighting fixtures by Miguel Herranz float in the central space. Visitors enter the children’s library under a glowing rainbow entry sign and find themselves beneath a 75-foot-long illuminated starry sky full of constellations, planets, and spaceships.


Children's section in Los Gatos Library, Curvy ceiling

Children’s library area features a curvy illuminated ceiling



CAD floor plan, Los Gatos library

First floor plan © Noll & Tam Architects



Second floor plan , CAD floor plan of Los Gatos public library

Second floor plan © Noll & Tam Architects



Library atrium, Customized lighting fixtures hanging from wooden ceiling

A circulation desk at entrance leads way to second floor


The curved ceiling panel was fabricated directly from the architects’ digital 3D model and installed below a ceiling painted yellow and uplighted by linear fixtures.


Information desk in Children's library, Signage, wood panelling

Rainbow colored signage marks the children’s library section


The library’s extensive glazing provides a sense of openness and transparency, while the exterior’s natural hues of concrete, stone, and wood-veneer panels reflect the colors of the surrounding environment. The facility more than doubles the space of its outdated 1960s predecessor.


Outdoor garden connected to library, Los Gatos library garden

The periodicals section overlooks a garden

Building form – 

The footprint of the new library was limited by the hillside behind and the desire to preserve mature trees on the site. This led to a simple rectangular form with pop-out design features on the second floor, free from ground constraints and to better capture views. Because of the simple shape of the building, a greater portion of the budget was available for higher-quality materials—exterior tile cladding, wood veneer panels, upscale lighting fixtures, and generous amounts of glass—meeting the client’s goal to create a civic showpiece.


Located along hillside, mature trees were preserved



Floor section CAD drawing, Library

Building section

Sections in Library – 

The library offers spaces for teens, children, seniors, and history buffs. The cantilever over the entry plaza provides a treehouse-like hangout for teens on the second floor, with a large bay window for visibility. Like the children’s area, the teen area is acoustically separate from the rest of the library.


Extended box as canopy in Los Gatos library

Treehouse-like box serves as a canopy


The periodicals reading room has a dark wood-paneled clubby atmosphere complete with a fireplace. The local history center features custom exhibit cases and a video screen to display artifacts of note.


wooden ceiling, Leaning area, Teen's library section

Teen’s library section on second floor



Information desk, Library, Non fiction area, Multi floor

Information kiosk on second floor – Non fiction section

Ceiling and Lighting –

The interior’s maple ceilings reflect warm light into the core of the building. As dusk approaches, fluorescent ceiling fixtures gradually illuminate the expansive window walls. The lighting from within shines off the glazed facade and exterior wood-veneer composite paneling.


Glass window walls bring in ample natural sunlight 



Los Gatos Library

Transparent, airy and a visual delight at evening


A stretch of glass around the exterior of the library at the second floor features integrated color-changing LEDs. The colors subtly move from amber to blue to purple throughout the evening, further animating the building. The building is certified LEED Gold.


Project details –


Project Name – Los Gatos Library

Architect  –  Noll & Tam Architects | www.nollandtam.com

Project location – Los Gatos, California, United States of America

Lead Architect – Christopher Noll, FAIA, Principal in Charge | Trina Goodwin, Interiors Architect

Project type – Public, Library

Built area – 2810.410 sq. m (Gross built area)

Completion year – 2012

Project cost – $18 Million

Photography – © David Wakely Photography | www.davidwakely.com

SustainabilityLEED Gold certification

Awards – AIA East Bay – 2013 Merit Award, AIA California Council – 2013 Sustainability Merit Award


Project team / Consultants – 


Civil Engineering – Sandis

Structural Engineering – Ingraham DeJesse Associates

Mechanical/Electrical/Geotechnical Engineering – Glumac

Landscape Architecture – Joni L. Janecki Associates

Lighting Design – Illuminosa, formerly known as Alice Prussin Lighting Design

Signage – Matthew Williams Design

Cost Estimating – Davis Langdon

Green Building Consultant – Simon & Associates

Contractor – Bogard Construction



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