Los Gatos Library

Los Gatos Library

Noll & Tam Architects
Los Gatos, United States | View Map
Stories By
Noll & Tam Architects

Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Decorative LightingLouis Poulsen
LightingZumtobel Lighting Gmbh

Product Spec Sheet
Decorative Lighting

Los Gatos Library

Noll & Tam Architects as 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. 

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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.

The 35-foot-high lobby atrium brings in plenty of daylight and features a two-story staircase with symbols of letters, phrases, musical notations, scientific formulas and information mapping etched into two-story translucent glass panels. 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. The curved ceiling panel was fabricated directly from the architects’ digital 3D model and is installed below a ceiling painted yellow and uplighted by linear fixtures.

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 The facility more than doubles the space of its outdated 1960s predecessor.

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.

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

 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, and the lighting from within shines off the glazed facade and exterior wood-veneer composite paneling. A stretch of glass around the exterior of the library at the second floor features integrated color-changing LEDs that subtly move from amber to blue to purple throughout the evening, further animating the building. The building is certified LEED Gold.

Project team

Noll & Tam (architecture and interior design)

Sandis (civil engineering)

Ingraham DeJesse Associates (structural engineering)

Glumac (mechanical/electrical/geotechnical engineering)

Joni L. Janecki Associates (landscape architecture)

Illuminosa, formerly known as Alice Prussin Lighting Design (lighting design)

Matthew Williams Design (signage)

Davis Langdon (cost estimating)

Simon & Associates (green building consultant)

Bogard Construction (contractor)

Los Gatos Library

LZF as Manufacturers

Inspired by the glow of a lantern, lighting plays a key role in the architectural concept of Los Gatos library. Enhancing the material palette of steel structure and stone, porcelain tiles and wood screens, LZF Lamps were selected for the lighting. In some areas, these pendants are seen hanging from high ceilings. Anfora pendant lamps, by Miguel Herranz and well as Agatha lamps, by Luis Eslava in the reading rooms further enhance the lantern concept. 

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The new library in Los Gatos, California, just some kilometers away from San Jose, is a peaceful place that blends modern architecture with nature. Really close to the Historic Park and the Civic Center, this lantern-shaped building combines different materials like steel in its structure and stone, porcelain tiles and wood screens in the finishes. Noll & Tam Architects, the firm who designed this splendid building, also included some LZF Lamps for the lighting. In some halls you could see hanging from it high ceilings, Anfora pendant lamps, designed by Miguel Herranz as well some Agatha lamps, by Luis Eslava, in the reading rooms. They make a perfect match with the wood panels installed in the structure.

The designers of this project are looking to get the LEED Gold certificate, highlighting the visible and sustainable systems and the educative features.

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