Committee selects PHR Library design

The Pacific Highlands Ranch Library design subcommittee unanimously approved a design for the new 18,000-square-foot facility planned for Village Center Loop Road. The May 8 recommendation will now be sent on to the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board for review at its May 24 meeting.

After reviews were mixed on Hanna Gabriel Wells Architecture’s first modern hacienda-style design, an informal presentation was set up in the plaza at the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch on April 21. People were able to check out three potential designs and were given an opportunity to fill out comment cards about their preferences.

Per the feedback gathered by Jim Gabriel, of Hanna Gabriel Wells, and design subcommittee member Karen Dubey, Gabriel said a clear preference was set toward an option more in the Santa Barbara flavor with more arches, wall details and a smaller scale roof line.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said Dubey, who noted that the outreach effort was a useful exercise that has resulted in a design that better reflects the community.

The selected design features strong flat white walls with articulations of heavy timber, deep recessed square windows with ironwork, and archways with wooden doors. Below the peaked metal roof, there are wooden screens and lattices to shade and temper the interior environment and fill the space with dappled light and shadows.

Residents shared a preference for horizontal latticework rather than chevron pattern, which Gabriel said will be incorporated in the final design. Most residents preferred a tile roof but that is not possible as the library department does not have the funds to maintain a tile roof.

“It blends, but it also stands out,” said committee and planning board member Stella Rogers of the contemporary take on a Santa Barbara-like style. “I think it’s coming together nicely.”

CV Planning Board Chair Frisco White has said that the view from Village Center Loop Road is the most important as it will be the one people see the most. Previously, the design featured a mostly blank white wall with the strong roof element. The structure against the street is now lighter with a reduced roof, wood details and lattice work and windows.

Dubey said she and many neighbors she surveyed would still like more “arches, arches, arches” but she is happy that the design has evolved from the original, more modern design.

Gabriel said he, too, loves arches and thinks they are a timeless piece of innovative architecture. He has added some to the design but he feels that arches should serve mainly as portals, to only be used to direct people to an important entrance or exit.

“If you put them everywhere, all of the sudden they become not important anymore, they’re just things,” Gabriel said.

Plans for the library include a spacious community room, several enclosed patio spaces, a variety of seating areas and stacks, a teen-friendly lounge and a large children’s area. A library veranda will be accessible from the Village promenade—the area serves as an extension of the reading and learning environment with fixed and flexible furniture, and seating and whimsical play space for children.

Funding for the library is not available until July 2019. From that point, the city expects to spend two years first going out to bid for construction and then competing the build.