San Mateo Public Library

San Mateo, California
EHDD Architecture

An environmentally friendly library shows that a civic building can still be a public landmark.

The San Mateo Public Library’s design evolved out of an extensive public workshop process that solicited input from the community about the building’s massing, the quality of interior and exterior spaces, and the community’s concern about noise levels. The library’s design satisfies community desires while presenting a strong civic image and establishing a new landmark in downtown San Mateo.

San Mateo Public Library
Photo © Doug Snower

Photos courtesy Sandy Lee, Greta Jones Photo courtesy Rhiannon Gorman.
Andy Sohn, Ed Rubin, Jennifer Devlin and Greta Jones

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As a resource center for literacy and lifelong learning, the library features 100 public internet terminals, expanded reading and study areas for children and teens, and a sustainable, energy-efficient design. An airy two-story lobby, transparent to the street, serves as a welcoming orientation hub. Entering patrons can see through to all levels of the building; an information booth supplements any orientation needs. The building undulates inward to preserve an existing redwood grove, and a mezzanine level opens to the grove with tall windows. On the second floor, a two-story central reading room further aids in ease of orientation and brings daylight into the building’s center from high clerestory windows, offering a comfortable space to visitors. Lighting and window shades are photocell activated for daylight control. Solar heat gain is controlled with sunshades and high performance glazing. The three-story building has two levels of underground parking.

The architects, EHDD Architecture, used the latest technologies, including raised-access floors, a mechanized book storage system, electronic checkout, and wireless technology to accommodate the patrons.

The library embraced several energy, material, and water conservation strategies. It is the first of a new generation of EHDD under-floor air projects and is full of interconnected multi-story spaces with natural ventilation and daylight. The library has quickly become San Mateo's premier civic building and a well-liked public destination.

Formal name of building:
San Mateo Public Library

55 West 3rd Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94402

Completion Date: August, 2006

Gross square footage: 93,000 sq.ft.

Total project cost: $44,000,000

City of San Mateo

EHDD Architecture
500 Treat Avenue, Suite 201
San Francisco, CA 94110
T 415.285.9193
F 415.285.3866

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