Sandstone integrates library to landscape

May 3, 2007
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The 10,000-square-foot Westlake Village Library, part of a Civic Center in Westlake, CA, features Ticul Mexican sandstone supplied by Southland Stone USA, Inc. of North Hollywood, CA.

The 25,000-square-foot Civic Center in Westlake Village, CA, consists of an 11,000-square-foot city hall, a 10,000-square-foot library and a 1,500-square-foot community meeting room. Designed by the local firm of Gonzalez Goodale Architects as a “contemporary hacienda,” the facility’s architecture merges with the area’s dramatic topography. While the building features a variety of materials, including wood and plaster, the library in particular features Mexican sandstone from Southland Stone USA, Inc. of North Hollywood, CA.

“The overall design goal was to set a City Hall/Library and public space as an integrated indoor/outdoor public forum in harmony with the hilly, canyon country of the Conejo Valley, with an architecture that is at once both glassy and open to grand view vistas, and at the same time is itself anchored and in rhythm with the rolling landscape,” said David Goodale, design principal of Gonzalez Goodale Architects of Pasadena, CA.

To meet this desired aesthetic, the architects selected 20,000 square feet of various-sized pieces of honed Ticul sandstone from Southland Stone USA, Inc., for the exterior design. The stone, which Goodale describes as “burnt orange” in color, was used to provide a sense of anchoring to the landscape. “The stone was selected for its color vibrancy and its complementary nature to the colors of the surrounding hillside and canyon landscape,” he explained. “The selection was made early, and searches for other stones that were both natural and color intense yielded no comparable result.”

Ticul sandstone was used extensively for the exterior of the building, as well as for elements such as water features, seatwalls and benches. According to Goodale, the material was also used centrally as a fireplace hearth, and as an accent throughout the building “to emphasize its connection to the earth via landscaped terraces and perimeter fountains,” he explained. “This same stone brings these color tones as bright accents into important interior components such as accents in the City Council dais.”

The stone was specified in a pattern that establishes and develops a sense of random horizontal coursing, according to Goodale, who added that the material features a natural honed finish.

Additional stones with higher densities, such as limestone, were used in areas where durable public countertops were required, including City public counters and the library check-out area.


Ticul sandstone was selected for exterior elements to integrate the building with the hilly, canyon country of the surrounding Conejo Valley.

Overcoming obstacles

According to Ravi Johar of Southland Stone USA Inc., the project was challenging from beginning to end. “The material comes from Yucatan, Mexico, and while it has been used as tiles, a cut-to-size job done in the Yucatan was not the normal course of business,” he explained. “This is a unique material and has a color range that is really earthy and yet colorful. With different directions of cuts and types of finish, the color also changes, making color range and consistency of any sort a real challenge.”

In addition, hurricanes and other weather events in the region disrupted shipping schedules, causing minor delays. “In spite of all these factors, the project was completed on time,” said Johar. “I think the end product is a very unique and distinct building that will always stand out as an architectural landmark.”

The design of the facility and creative use of color and materials provides a dignified, yet inviting community facility. “Both client and community feedback have indicated pleasure with the Civic Center, which has brought an urban crispness/elegance to the semi-arid canyon country,” said Goodale.

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