Hercules Library

Hercules, CA

Situated on a hilltop overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the library meets the need for a true social and cultural civic venue for this newly developed community.

Landscape and architecture are fully integrated in this cultural hub; set into a new native oak woodland is a building that encloses a central light-filled courtyard. This Sky Garden is a central elliptical space, visible from much of the library interior through floor to ceiling windows that allow light to cascade into the building. Within the void of the Sky Garden, a black truncated cone made of stone recalls Hercules’ historic role in gunpowder production. A book-nook is embedded in the conical planter, surrounded by a bed of Irish moss, and encircling an intimate space that is revealed as one happens upon it. The organic structure of the magnolia tree provides contrast to the elegant building and marks the change of seasons. The perimeter path expands into a patio to provide space for café tables and chairs, opportunities for reflection, repose, and socializing.

Set in the Children’s Garden, and connected to the exterior of the library is a reading tower for outdoor storytelling and free play. In the final stages of the library construction, the community funded this children’s garden, and CMG provided pro-bono designs that were built by volunteers in a weekend.

The oak woodland that surrounds the building was created by importing soil to cover the stripped bedrock. Stormwater treatment across the site provides for the collection, conveyance, and treatment of runoff from the roof and parking lot.

As increasing digital preferences beg the question of the role of the town library in the future, this project fills the community’s need for a social hub where exchange of ideas can take place.