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West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library

Harley Ellis Devereaux

Project Name

West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library


1125 University Ave.

Project Status



9,400 sq. feet


City of Berkeley



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Project Description


As part of a bond program to renew its four public branch libraries, the City of Berkeley sought to update its undersized West Branch Library and to enhance its role as a community hub for its culturally diverse neighborhood.

The first design challenge was to build consensus on whether to expand and upgrade or replace the existing library building. After extensive assessments and a series of architect-led community workshops, the city embraced the creation of a new library, with a strong civic presence to draw in the neighborhood’s diverse populations.

Library amenities including book drop-off, bike parking, and places to meet or relax are composed within a large frame that reinforces the street front and creates a sheltering alcove leading to the front entrance. The façade’s large expanse of glass attracts passers-by to visit the reading room and the resources beyond.

Inside, the main space includes stacks, computer stations, seating areas, a children’s area and circulation desk. A multipurpose room, teen room, meeting areas, and staff and service areas round out the program.

An integrated and collaborative design process resulted in a building rigorously tuned to the geography and climate as well as to its public mission.
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