Robertson Branch Library
Steven Ehrlich Architects
The Robertson Branch library is situated on a busy Los Angeles strip, where apartments and commercial buildings clamor for attention.
Through the Los Angeles Cultural Arts Commission Arts in Public
Places Program, the tile facade is used as a billboard for
witticism and literary quotations to reaffirm the importance and
presence of the written word for a public library.
With its pre-weathered copper-clad 'ship's hull' protruding over the sidewalk, the Library boldly announces its presence on the street, becoming a beacon for the community on this busy street./Steven Ehrlich
Steven Ehrlich broke the monotony of the basic rectangular
footprint with a bold element that resembles the hull of a boat,
which soars above the otherwise modest 2-story structure. This
element acts as a library marketing device to increase public
attendance, inviting patrons to read and gather.
Inside, this dramatic two-story volume serves as the central organizing element of the library. It contains a curving stairway crafted of steel and stone treads that draw visitors up to the second floor.
The hull pierces the library's rectangular framework like a ship
skewering a modernist block. The gracefully curved volume is
energized by being slightly skewed on all three axes, heightening
the counterpoint to the grids of floor plan and elevation. The long
axis is not perpendicular to the street, but points toward downtown
and the main library, symbolically connecting the branch with the
The library sits on a very tight site, and approximately 3/4 of
the ground plane was allocated for parking and vehicular access. As
a result, the majority of the library is elevated to allow for a
driveway and at-grade parking to occur underneath the main
structure. Public spaces are located on the second floor which are
in strong connection to the two-story hull. This synergy enlivens
the simpler reading room spaces and physically connects the library
user to the ground plane, side wall, street and community.
The building received the AIA/National American Library
Association 2001 Award; Los Angeles AIA - 1998 Distinguished
Building Award; Los Angeles Business Council 1998; LA Cultural
Affairs Commission 1997
Facts about Robertson Branch Library
11,000 square feet
BLS Environmental Design
Kim Casey & Harase, Inc.
Ashba Engineers, Ltd.
PHA Lighting Design
City of Los Angeles
Last updated: December 19, 2013