The design of the new Donald Dungan Library in sunny Costa Mesa in Southern California pays homage to both the physical and cultural history of the region. An alabaster concrete plastered facade evokes the humility of Spanish mission style adobe architecture ubiquitous in the area since the 1800s. The two-story structure simultaneously updates this aesthetic to incorporate a mid-century modern vibe with sleek streamlined forms inspired by the aerospace industry, which led to massive economic and population expansion in SoCal after 1940. Dramatic curves, recessed cutouts and large arched windows are not only visually arresting but also enhance sustainability through at once harnessing natural light and also minimizing direct sun exposure.
Architecture firm Johnson Favaro were able to garner funding approval for the project by anchoring the library construction within a $36.5 million multi-phased redevelopment of the 10-acre Lions Park. In a cleverly planned act of reciprocal recycling, an outdated community centre on the site which would have been economically and logistically prohibitive to upgrade was demolished in favour of the new library, with the old library slated to be transformed into a new community centre as part of Phase 2 of the project.
At 22,500 sq. ft, the new library has a smaller building footprint than the old community centre, and this combined with repurposing an adjacent parking lot allowed a one-acre lawn to be carved out as adjacent green space, a core selling point in securing competitive civic funding.
This green space functions as an extension of library programming, providing shaded reading and seating areas, event space for book fairs, farmers and craft markets, and other social and community gatherings and events. Phase 2 of the project will see further expansion of community spaces through the renovation of the 8,000 sq. ft. old library as well as a new café and meeting centre.
The library entrance features self-check and customer service stations, orientation kiosks and new titles. Visitors can browse a used book marketplace or reserve space in community meeting rooms. A Children’s Library opens onto a learn and play area. The upper level features an area exclusively for teens, a large reading room, and study carrels.
The interior design was done in collaboration with RVD Associates, an architecture firm specializing in hotels. User experience was paramount and porcelain tile flooring, rich white oak shelving and modular furnishings lend a sense of hospitality to the space.
Giroux Glass was enlisted to coordinate glazing and oversaw the installation of a curved, structural glass feature wall as well as sliding glass walls, custom glass, skylights and openings. Each glass installation was customized to engineering and design briefs and a wide range of technologically advanced materials and designs utilized.
A Tate raised floor system was utilized to create an underfloor air circulation system. In addition to reducing initial construction costs, the system will also reduce future maintenance costs. This solution has not only practical value, but in avoiding the need to mount air distribution equipment overhead also allowed space for more dramatic design expression in the form of higher ceilings, larger windows and other architectural elements.
This harmony between conscious eco-friendly design and cutting-edge materials and applications throughout the project resulted in the library being granted LEED Gold certification.