Michelle Obama Branch Library

Long Beach, California

The largest library in Long Beach, California, provides essential community resources

The single-story, 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art community library features dynamic public spaces and sustainable strategies, with a design that connects the facility with a historic neighborhood.

The new library was designed to replace the former North Branch Library, which didn’t have space for community gatherings, children’s services or the new demands of a modern library. The new library was designed through an extensive discussion with the community, to ensure it met their needs and served as an expression of the local culture and history.

Located on the site of the historic Atlantic Theater, the library pays homage to the area’s past by featuring the original theater spire on top of the new building. The design is an abstraction of the Art Deco elements of the historic neighborhood, which inspired the planning and site placement of the building to ensure the continuation of the environment.

LPA’s integrated design team helped develop the landscape architecture, interior design, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, civil and structural engineering for the new library. The “bubble wall” façade helps engage visitors and creates a fun, lively environment. The interior includes 3D printers, computers, a family learning center, themed children’s and young adult libraries, after-hours public meeting rooms and self-checkout kiosks.

The library’s sustainable design focuses on two key issues for California: water and energy use. The building uses nearly 40 percent less potable water for plumbing fixtures and 55 percent less for irrigation, aided by a landscape palette of drought-tolerant, native California plants coupled with a cutting-edge watering system. Natural light, efficient HVAC and a responsive building envelope helps the LEED Silver building exceed California Title 24 energy codes by nearly 20 percent.

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