Having seen funding dollars squeeze services while technological changes and challenges multiply, libraries are re-imagining themselves, and joining forces. The goal: significant benefits to joint use of facilities that go beyond collaborative resources and the attraction of new users to greater power in accessing funds, technology, and services. So when a major university and large city considered a completely new approach for their two aging libraries, they contacted ABA to guide them into the depths of the unfamiliar. Developing this ‘first of its kind’ regional library services and education hub required a special insight into what was not yet defined; an expertise in facilitating two cultures to a common vision.
The director of the City and the dean of the University Libraries knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they thought it possible to operate as one unit. The employees of the two libraries underwent a strategic operational planning process designed by ABA for exploring and defining issues from multiple perspectives. A sustained creative process led to a cultural shift in both organizations, guided them, and resulted in the seamless integration of two very distinct systems. The service and operational model was unique and without precedent, achieving this seemingly impossible feat – one decision at a time.
Following the successful feasibility and planning process, architects Gunnar Birkerts and Carrier Johnson joined the project team. While ABA’s contribution focused primarily in the operational and functional spaces of the library, they also featured heavily in the Special Collections, Adaptive Technology, Administrative, Circulation, Children’s and Multi-Cultural Collections layouts, as well as the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment specifications.
The half-million square foot facility was sculpted to break down the scale and provide a distinctive sense of entry for both the campus and the downtown users. Flooring patterns on the interior “Main Street” lead the public to interactive areas and service points, offering unparalleled resources and technologies to its diverse patrons, more than doubling what either library could have provided independently. A commitment to continuous improvement was embedded in the planning and construction of the library, which continues to drive the organizations’ use of the facility on a daily basis.
Client: City of San José Redevelopment Agency and San José State University
Size: 475,000 SF
• Community Outreach Process
• Needs Assessment
• Library Plan of Service
• Operational Planning
• Conceptual Design through Construction
• Fixture and Furniture Selection (FFE)
Design Team/Partner: Architects, Gunnar Birkerts and Carrier Johnson
Photographer: Tim Hursley and Pierre Brulé