Combining contemporary design with practicality

December 1, 2002
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Built to emulate the technologic advances on the inside, the architecture of the Cerritos Library in Cerritos, CA, combines the look of the future with practicality in design. Dedicated in March 2002, the library took three years to come to fruition from planning to end result. Designed by Charles Walton Associates of Glendale, CA, the new library doubles the size of the space, with 88,500 square feet on three levels.

First opened in 1973 as an 18,000-square-foot space, the library was expanded in 1981. This addition, also done by Charles Walton Associates, brought the library to 41,500 square feet. But it was this recent exterior renovation and addition that modernized the library to fit with the emergence of the Internet. While much of the exterior was clad in titanium to go with the futuristic theme, the entry floor, main corridor floor, third floor conference center floor and stairways were done in limestone.

The majority of stone selected for the project was 18 - x 36 - inch and cut-to-size pieces of Gascogne Beige and Gascogne Blue limestone - supplied by Walker Zanger of Sylmar, CA - while Seafoam Green Brazilian granite was used as accents and trim.

The limestone, quarried in Portugal, was selected for its durability in such high-traffic areas as the stairs. The limestone also has a lighter look, which does not overwhelm the space and is enhanced in the natural light the surrounding windows provide, according to the architects. "The stone was chosen for its consistency of material," said James Nardini of Charles Walton Associates.

The design goal was for an elegant floor with subtle contrast, to create a 'Main Street' effect with a color change at the sidewalks, according to Judy Van Wyk, interior designer at Charles Walton Associates. Though it was a challenge to get a large area of stone flooring with even color and grain, the look was achieved by doing full-scale layouts with hand selection of the stone, according to the architect.

An average of 18 workers from Stonecrafters of Inglewood, CA, installed the 20,000 square feet of limestone. The stone, which included pieces that were cut to size, was installed using a mud set application with a slip-sheet and reinforcing mesh. Although the installation didn't cause much difficulty, the finish of the stone provided a challenge. "The stone was originally set to be saw-cut and acid-washed," according to Ramin Bagherzadeh of Stonecrafters. "The stone, being saw-cut, had the saw cut lines on it which the architect and owner didn't like, and the acid wash caused yellowish stains on the stone. We had to reject and change some pieces, but the majority of the stone was fixed by sanding and honing the stone."

Since dubbed "The Millennium Library," the architecture has succeeded as both futuristic-looking and conducive to patrons' needs. "From its grand opening, the library has experienced a use rate of over 3,000 patrons a day," said Nardini. "The use of stone flooring on active circulation areas was definitely a good decision."

Cerritos Library, Cerritos, CA

Architect: Charles Walton Associates, Glendale, CA
Stone Installers: Stonecrafters, Inglewood, CA
Stone Supplier: Walker Zanger, Sylmar, CA

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