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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Long Beach City College Library, Long Beach, United States

Revamped 'Art Deco' college opens its doors to the community
In the 1950s, this community college added a classroom wing, food services area, and several vocational buildings to what had been a 1930s Art Deco junior high school campus providing vocational training for the surrounding low-income urban neighborhood.

With the creation of a new Library / Learning Resource Center, the once exclusively vocational college now offers associate degrees, enabling the students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Strong formal elements; grand portal, bisecting spine, elegant stair and bridge, play against the structural grid, forming a lively entry courtyard and sculpting the relationship to context and the spatial experience of users.

Squeezed between an existing classroom building and a campus road, the building was forced into an unfortunate orientation, with long east and west sides exposed to solar heat gain and glare. In response, reading rooms are positioned along the West side of the building where a group of mature trees provides ample shade. Glare is mitigated by fritted glass and vertical aluminum fins, which allude to the window pattern of the adjacent Art Deco buildings. Sloping ceilings bring natural light deep into the building over low, perimeter offices and study rooms.

The plan is laid out for maximum flexibility, providing staged use of the building, which allows the community access to the lecture hall and student access to the computer lab for after-hours and weekend use. The Library / Learning Resource Center provides access to the latest technology, a healthy, naturally lit, ecologically sensitive environment, and valuable resources within easy reach of the surrounding community.
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