South Berkeley Library Opening

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The South Berkeley Library opened in a percolating community event last week. Hosted by local civil leaders, a large crowd gathered to hear about the completely renovated facility and get their first look inside.

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While half of the library focuses on the traditional books and periodicals, the other half operates as tool lending library where you can find everything from a simple spade for gardening to large power tools for intense renovation projects.

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RSM designer Christy Montgomery recalls design inspiration, “As a kid I spent hours pounding nails and building ‘art projects’ in my dad’s garage. The South Berkeley Library was a great way to look back on those times and focus on the workshop as a place of imagination. The bright yellow-orange at the heart of the palette is inspired by the same orange seen on tape measures, Stanley screwdrivers, and countless other icons of the handyman’s garage. For the letters of the canopy signs, the measuring tape was abstracted into the return of the letterforms. The sides were intentionally left open, allowing internal illumination of letters on the raceway without the usual, horsey backplate typically used in such sign types. The recessed ‘halo’ illumination technique was also carefully chosen to consider the residential neighborhood location of the sign. This same formal detail was used on the internal way finding signs, connecting the project with a strong look that expressed the distinctive attributes of the location.

It was a great pleasure to work on this project with Yann, Avery and the team at Field Paoli. They encouraged us to make the graphics and signage bold, expressive and fun.”

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Inside people filled the aisles, browsing the collection and getting to know the library staff. The main atrium space, a bright and open area with high ceilings and lots of natural light, buzzed with excitement .

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Category signs were developed to be eye-catching, but allow for transparency. Drawing again from the workshop as inspiration, the dot pattern that appears throughout the interior signage was informed by garage pegboards.

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The new kids area was alive with craft projects and interactive displays.

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This project blends signage, art and architecture into an iconic environment that will be a beloved community resource for years to come.