Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

10/17/2011

Seen: WeHo's new library

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

It's no secret I love libraries, but in this economy, it's rare to step inside a new one. Last Tuesday, I took a peek inside the new $64-million library complex in West Hollywood designed by Johnson Favaro. I had been hearing some great things about it, but you can never really tell if reality lives up to the hype until you see it.

The West Hollywood library stood facing the colorful facade of the Pacific Design Center. Its exterior was unassumingly cream with clear bands of glass, which reminded me a bit of a layered cake. I was worried about finding parking, but I needn't. The WeHo library had two parking garages that provided ample space and free three-hour parking with validation too. Perfect.

Rest your eyes with huge blocks of color courtesy of the Pacific Design Center. Carren Jao © 2011.
Inside, the library was gleaming with the smell of new evident everywhere. A wide expanse of window on the first and second floors had chairs all facing outward proffering the perfect view of the PDC, the canyons, even a bit of Griffith Observatory. I couldn't wait to prop open a book and just read with such a wonderful view ahead of me.

But, I was in exploration mode. The stairway to the second floor had a wonderful skylight under which David Wiseman's delicate white coral tree work of art forever reaches up toward the light. The 29-year-old RISD graduate who made a home at Glassell Park concentrates on the tension between nature's impermanence and human nature's unceasing attempts at preservation. This is a lovely piece and I think WeHo has introduced me to another artist whose point of view I can share. Check out his interview over at Sight Unseen.

I had thought these were petrified trees, but now I know better. David Wiseman's creation.  Carren Jao © 2011.
Once you step onto the second floor, the space opens up to rows and rows of books with little cushy areas for seating. Heaven. Above that is a ceiling of bamboo panels worked into the shape of leaves. Oooh. That was certainly a contemporary take on the old fresco.

I didn't see the murals until I was already on my way out. They were evident on each face of the parking garages. Kenny Scharf's was around the corner from the first floor exit. Shepard Fairey's could easily be seen upon exit of the parking. Retna's was only visible from the street (but hampered by another building). Despite their fanfare, I found I enjoyed the interior aspects of the library much, much more. But them, I was always one to enjoy the sight of well-placed books. I imagine the joggers, school children and mothers with strollers found something to smile about outside.

Kenny Scharf's mural.  Carren Jao © 2011.
Shepard Fairey's mural uses my favorite animal, the elephant!  Carren Jao © 2011.
If you ever need a place of respite in the middle of Hollywood, I highly recommend the WeHo library. A beautiful environment and free wi-fi too! Who could ask for anything more?

West Hollywood Library
625 N. San Vicente Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

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