photo by David Lena

South Whittier Library

This high performance building features multiple layers of sustainable building strategies which augment the use of a wide variety of interior spaces, all of which contribute to a modern library experience. A highly insulated, air-tight building envelope with multiple types of exterior shading devices over extensive glazing make for an extremely high level of natural glare-free daylighting. The exterior panel pattern was designed to minimize waste, and leftover scrap was used in a custom shading trellis over an outdoor reading courtyard which can be connected to the interior by sliding glass doors.

The library features several energy and resource saving building systems including: exterior sunshades and fins which shade exposed glass, minimizing solar heat gain; a radiometer-based motorized shade system, eliminating remaining glare; extensive daylight harvesting, dimming nearly every light fixture type when sufficient natural light is available and reducing electrical lighting consumption by 38%; water-saving plumbing fixtures, reducing indoor water demand by 37%; a high percentage of recycled content in the building materials used; extensive permeable and pervious hardscape, reducing rainwater runoff into the municipal sewer system; drought tolerant and native landscaping with irrigation which reduces water consumption by over 69%.

The PV system is designed to offset 27% of the annual energy cost of the building, combining with other design elements to reduce total building energy cost by over 46%. The building's Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 32.0 kBtu/sf exceeds the 2030 Challenge Target of 36.8 kBtu/sf.

The project has received LEED Platinum certification, which makes it the third of only three LA County Library LEED Platinum buildings. The East Rancho Dominguez Library and Pico Rivera Library are the first two.


Address: 11543 Colima Road, South Whittier, CA 90604

Client: County of Los Angeles Community Development Commission; County of Los Angeles Public Library

Construction Cost: $ 8.06 million

Building Area: 14,400 s.f. + 770 s.f. Outdoor Reading Courtyard

Energy and Resources: Certified LEED Platinum

Architect of Record: emar Studio for Public Architecture