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Branch Library Projects - Joint Use and Community Themes

San Diego Public Library
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Problem Statement

The San Diego Public Library is committed to leveraging limited resources on the branch library building projects by collaborating with other organizations, while making the themes of these projects reflective of the communities they serve. The most recent new branch library project exemplifies this commitment.


The New Logan Heights Branch is a new two-story, 25,000-square-foot library, which opened in December 2009. The new facility replaces the old 3,967-square-foot branch library built in 1927. It is a joint project with the San Diego Unified School District and is located on the Logan Elementary School site and adjacent to the Memorial Charter Middle School.

This new branch library, which serves a population base of more than 30,000 residents in this predominantly Hispanic community, is a treasured resource steeped in its rich Latino heritage. The architect worked with numerous community members to create a design for the new library that was both functional and in keeping with the cultural heritage and identity of the community. The building’s architectural design was inspired by the ancient symbolism, mythology and cultures of the Americas. For the project to be worthy of the community’s ancestry, it was important for the design elements to reflect the monumental scale of these ancient civilizations. The materials and textures, rich composition of forms and vivid colors were chosen because they are reminiscent of “Mother Earth” and “Father Sky.” Together they help achieve the design goals, enhance the community’s identity and establish the library as the "new heart" of the community. Specific features include: 1.) The “Centro Cultural,” which is the project's main landmark. It contains 971 square feet and is a suspended granite cube, 35 feet on a side. The cube is supported/balanced by one 8-foot diameter column. This striking base is similar in stature to other important monuments seen throughout the Americas such as the Caracol at Chichen Itza; 2.) Mural on Exterior of Community Room, Title: “Las Americas de Lejos”/“The Americas From Afar” is a tribute to the native nations of the American southland of Chile to the northern Arctic Circle, and the accomplishments of their societies through astrology, civics, agriculture, architecture and art; 3.) The Main, Two-Story Entry Lobby is glazed in reflective and clear glass, which is in the profile of one of the colossal figures from Tula (Toltec man). It serves as a transitional space between realms.


The new Logan Heights Branch Library was featured in American Library Association’s 2010 Design Showcase under two categories: Themes and Styles and Natural Light.