The modernization and expansion of a mid-century library redefines its engagement of the community and anchors the area’s first civic plaza.



San Lorenzo, CA

The San Lorenzo Library modernizes and nearly doubles the size of a 1960s era library serving unincorporated Alameda County. The  addition echoes the original reading room’s open, light-filled, architectonic design, while infusing project with robust new spaces supporting its community-spanning mission.

A generous “front porch” formed by a dramatic butterfly roof overhang reverses the introverted precursor’s orientation. Since the library’s opening, the porch alone has become a local landmark, hosting everything from food truck picnics to bike clinics, and promising many imaginative opportunities to come.

The new layout places staff desks at the middle of a bow tie-shaped floor plan, permitting sight lines to all spaces from one location, and allowing the doubled-in-size facility to operate with the same sized staff.

The project was developed in coordination with extensive public feedback, and weaves San Lorenzo’s cultural and built history into a destination that celebrates the area’s unique identity. Since opening this project has become a model for future facility improvements within the Alameda County Library system.


  • Client: Alameda County Library
  • Design team: Group 4; murakami/Nelson Architectural Corporation
  • Scope: Modernization and expansion; urban infill
  • Status: Complete
  • Photography: Technical Imagery Studio


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