Malibu Library

Malibu, California

Natural light and garden views breathe new life into outdated library

Three large skylight rotundas and new garden views helped transform the Malibu Library from an outdated concrete-box into a modern facility. In the lobby, visitors are greeted by a cresting wave sculpture created from recycled milk bottles, celebrating the sustainable design that earned the project LEED Gold certification.

Set back roughly 500 feet from the Pacific Ocean and overlooking a city park, the Malibu Library received only minor improvements since opening its doors in 1970. The City of Malibu and the Los Angeles County Public Library System sought to transform the near-windowless structure into a lively, eco-conscious civic statement.

The 14,500-square-foot renovation created dedicated areas for children and teens while also expanding a community meeting room. To make the space feel larger, lighter and brighter, designers hollowed out the library’s original building shell and started fresh. Round skylights were added to filter natural light deep into the space. Existing fixed windows were removed and replaced with glass bi-fold doors that open to a new 3,500-square-foot garden.

The garden features a small presentation stage and reading orchard. This outdoor space supports library programs and can also be used as a venue for community events. Inspired by the Malibu coast, the garden's design incorporates an abstracted wind sail, water metaphors and undulating shapes and forms.

At the building exterior, large panels clad the former concrete box. The panels are varying shades of blue and set in random patterns, evoking colors of the ocean. Artwork including surf boards and an undersea mural further complement the beachside theme.

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