A new $15.4 million Lakeside library pays homage to its host community through its design and a series of murals in the library and in an outdoor patio.
Designed by HED architects, a firm based in Michigan with offices in San Diego, the 16,977-square-foot library is more than three-times the one it replaced that was built in 1961.
“This library is so reflective of the local environment, I’m really taken with it every time I go,” said Migell Acosta, director of the San Diego County library system that includes the Lakeside library. “Every time I go there, I pick up some new detail of that.”
The look of the library was inspired by the nearby mountains and the lake from which Lakeside takes its name, said Jennette La Quire, a principal of HED who grew up in Lakeside and has called the library “a labor of love.”
“When I saw the project come out and it was in my backyard, I felt the calling,” La Quire said, adding that designing the library was “such a privilege and a big responsibility too but I don’t think I’d have it any other way.”
The new library has 31,000 books, compared to the 23,000 books that were in the old library, but it’s so much more than a repository for books. Think of it more as a community gathering space and a place of learning that complements what’s taught in schools, a place for civic organizations to meet and for people to just hang out and relax, Acosta said.
The new library includes a 2,000-square-foot community room that opens out to a shaded Poet’s Patio of about 1,200 square feet.
The community room itself can be divided into two separate areas. The patio was named Poet’s Patio “because it’s a library and libraries are about books and we thought it would evoke an idea that you could do something artful out there,” La Quire said.
“It has shade sails, seating and nice lighting for evening events,” La Quire said.
Artwork in the Poet’s Patio depicts the landscape of Lakeside with murals of people fishing and rock climbing and a hawk. Some of the library artwork was created from photos taken by people in Lakeside.
The library also has a kiosk that dispenses laptop computers that can be used by patrons in the library or checked out to take home.
“It gives people the opportunity to move around and use other areas of the library rather than be tethered to the computer stations,” La Quire said.
A 2,100-square-foot great room forms the center spine of the library, leading to the book stacks and features a sepia tone mural created using a photo of early Lakeside that was donated by the Lakeside Historical Society.
There’s also an adult reading room, three study rooms, a teen room, and a kids’ zone with a pop-out rock climbing wall and a cave-like cubby hole.
The teen room was designed with help from local students.
“They had a real commitment to the environment and nature,” La Quire said, so the room includes depictions of the sun and a beehive, La Quire said. “Inside the space, it has reading rooms, a comfortable sofa area with a large (video) monitor where students can connect games to or video, and study space where kids can come in after school to do homework or have a space just for them.”
One of the study rooms is meant for veterans to get help via computers.
“It’s a place where veterans in the region can connect with the county Office of Miliary & Veterans Affairs and thereby save themselves a trip to the main office,” Acosta said.
The library is a net zero energy building, producing all of its own energy from rooftop solar panels. Landscaping around the library uses native plants and includes swales in the front and back of the library that collect rainwater to prevent stormwater runoff.
The library was originally scheduled to be completed and open last summer, but COVID-related issues caused a delay.
“The pandemic made it difficult to get certain elements. Then we had an unprecedented winter, which didn’t help,” La Quire said.
Even so, she said that the project was completed for less than the original estimate, which was $19 million.
CEO: Tania Van Herle and Enrique Suarez
Headquarters: Royal Oak, MI
Business: Architecture, engineering and design firm
Notable: HED has eight offices in cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento in California