Palomar College Learning Resource Center

San Marcos, California

A modern reinterpretation of a library

The design for Palomar College’s new Learning Resource Center (LRC) re-imagines the basic concept of a library, creating an open, bright facility which will serve multiple purposes now and into the future.

From the start of the master planning process, the 85,000-square-foot, four-story learning center was designed as the heart of the campus, “the jewel in the crown,” connecting the buildings to an arrival plaza with social areas for students. In addition to the book stacks, there are computer rooms, tutoring spaces, study rooms and social areas. The entrance is an open atrium flooded with natural light and views of the campus, a sharp contrast to the closed off libraries of the past.

Flexible furniture and collaboration spaces are available throughout the lobby, creating a place for students to hang out and study. Each floor of the building, visible from the atrium, represents a different function, including academic technology spaces, a tutoring center, the traditional library book stacks and reading rooms.

In many ways, the new LRC is designed to connect with nature, including the transparent separation of indoor and outdoor spaces and the framed views of the campus and mountains. The views and the interaction between the buildings were strategies and goals explored years ago as part of our informed design process. The outdoor spaces focused on drought-resistant landscaping and integrated the stormwater management system with student spaces. An amphitheater with terraced seating also serves as a stormwater basin.

Throughout the project, which was designed to meet LEED Gold standards, the design focused on methods to conserve energy, including the larger “floating” upper level floors, which shade the lower floors and plaza. The design reduces fossil fuel use by 70 percent, meeting the requirements of the AIA’s 2030 Commitment.

The LRC is part of a decade-long transformation of the community college’s campus, based on a master plan developed by LPA in 2005. The LRC is the last in a cluster of four buildings designed by LPA, each fitting together to create connected open spaces that unite the different elements of the campus.

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