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Half Moon Bay Library by Noll & Tam Architects

A joint project between the City of Half Moon Bay and the County of San Mateo, the design of the new Half Moon Bay Library honors the region’s agricultural roots and coastal environment while providing a valuable community resource to serve the 270-square-mile area. The challenge was how to satisfy the needs of the growing coastal region (in addition to Half Moon Bay, the library serves 10 other unincorporated communities along the coast, from Montara to Pescadero), while preserving the modest architecture character of Half Moon Bay. The resulting $18.2 million, 22,000-square-foot building strikes a balance—a facility large and flexible enough to meet the region’s current and future needs, yet one that responds directly to its physical context and community.

Designed by Noll & Tam Architects

Photographed by Anthony Lindsey / Tubay Yabut

To succeed, local support was essential. An extensive community process began at the earliest stages of the project to ensure residents had the opportunity to shape the project to their needs. Concepts and revisions were illustrated, enabling stakeholders the opportunity to see how the design evolved and responded to their needs and concerns. Minimizing visual impact was paramount. To minimize the building’s presence in the neighborhood, the massing of the building is broken down into two, small rectangular volumes to present a low, single-story facade along the street, hiding a larger second-story height in the back of the building.