Valley Hi-North Laguna Library

A Vibrant and Light-filled Library that takes Inspiration from an Open Book Sacramento, California / United States / 2009

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The City of Sacramento sought from the beginning to deliver a distinctive, flexible, high-performance branch library to this underserved yet growing community. The library is sited at an intersection unique within the community: planned high density multi-family housing to one side, Consumnes River College across the street, a new 10-acre park to the south, and retail and freeways within eyesight. The branch library seeks to establish an anchoring presence, while also being inspiring, sustainable, and low maintenance.


This LEED Gold library sets a precedent for insulated tilt-up concrete walls and establishes a new standard for sustainability in a civic building. The V-shaped roofline mimics the shape of an open book and uses generous natural light to create a dynamic learning environment. The light-filled design, punctuated by a cheerful red tower that marks the children’s reading room, provides a welcoming landmark for this growing community. Inside, a brightly-painted steel beam accentuates the “spine” of the book and establishes a clear building organization. The design team collaborated with the library building committee to maximize square footage and provide daylit spaces for patrons and staff. Working from a program that outlined distinct service areas, the design team organized the interior spaces along a steel “spine,” continuing the imagery of an open book. The spine orients the patrons to the facility, and allows them to view into distinct spaces for children and teens, three group study areas, a learning center, and a computer lab with internet and word processing. Generous spaces, now common in libraries, include a community meeting room that can accommodate as many as 100 people, and a food court for refreshments and socializing.


Early in the project we held an Eco-Charette with all stakeholders to identify the sustainable design features. Our solutions included extensive daylighting, a natural ventilation tower, and use of insulated concrete panels to increase thermal mass. We participated in Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Savings by Design Program. Our team successfully obtained a design team incentive grant for an additional modeling analysis to demonstrate the high thermal properties of the insulated concrete. By following the program’s Whole Building Approach, the new building exceeds California’s Title 24 energy code by 34%.

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    The City of Sacramento sought from the beginning to deliver a distinctive, flexible, high-performance branch library to this underserved yet growing community. The library is sited at an intersection unique within the community: planned high density multi-family housing to one side, Consumnes River College across the street, a new 10-acre park to the south, and retail and freeways within eyesight. The branch library seeks to establish an anchoring presence, while also being inspiring,...

    Project details
    • Year 2009
    • Client City of Sacramento
    • Contractor Sundt Construction, Inc.
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Government and institutional buildings / Libraries / Interior Design
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