The Pico Branch Library is located at the Virginia Avenue Park Campus on Pico Blvd. between 21st Street and Cloverfield Blvd.
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By Freeway. Take the I-10 freeway to the Cloverfield Blvd. exit. Take Cloverfield Blvd. south for 0.3 miles and then turn right on Pico Blvd.
By Bus. The Pico Branch Library is served by the Big Blue Bus line 7. The 41 (Crosstown) and 44 (SMC Campus Connector) lines stop on the northeast and southwest side of 20th Street and Pico Blvd.
Two surface parking lots are available for 2 hour parking on the VAP Campus. The first parking lot is located on Pico Blvd, south of the Pico Branch. The second parking lot is located on Virginia Ave., north of the Pico Branch. Limited metered parking is also available on Pico Blvd. Residential parking permits are in effect on the side streets north of Pico Blvd. Monday through Friday.
Bike Racks. Cyclists can secure their bikes at the bike lockers adjacent to the Pico Branch Building. Bike valet is available on Saturdays during the Farmer's Market.
Pico Branch – Exterior Materials Returns – Materials return is connected to the building, located to the right of the main entrance of the Pico Branch Library. This return is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and accepts books, magazines and audiovisual materials. Please do not drop donations into this return. All donations should be brought to the Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Overview of Services and Collections
Children. The Pico Branch offers story times and craft programs, book club gatherings, class visits, three group study rooms and much more.
Teens. Take advantage of our computers, study rooms, movie screenings, volunteer opportunities (8th grade and up), special programs, and more.
Adults. Enjoy our Book Group which meets the third Thursday of the month.
En Español. Ofrecemos cuentos para los niños, libros y audiolibros en español, fotonovelas y clases de computación.
The Annex Community Meeting Facility. A 56-person capacity meeting room is available for rent for meetings or programs that are free and open to the public.
Collections. Explore a wide array of popular books, magazines, DVDs, Music CDs, and books on CD for children, teens and adults.
Computers. The Pico Branch Library is equipped with 12 public access Internet stations, 8 children's computers, plus 3 Early Literacy (AWE) stations.
Wi-Fi. The facility is equipped with free City Wi-Fi.
Photocopiers and printers. Color and black-and-white printing and photocopying are available.
Access the City of Santa Monica's Office of Sustainability and the Environment case study page here. A brochure and game can be found here.
- The Pico Branch Library is sited in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver-rated Virginia Avenue Park, the first park in the nation to achieve LEED certification.
- Placing the library adjacent to the existing Thelma Terry Building maximized the open space at the park. No grass space was used for the library.
- No additional vehicle parking was added.
- Site trees were protected and permeable paving at the Annex ramp provides irrigation to the landscaping.
- The community joined in the library planning by completing a survey and participating in five focus groups highlighting architecture and program planning.
- Three municipal bus routes stop at Virginia Avenue Park, the site of the Library.
- Bike lockers and new bike racks are included. Bike valet service is provided for the popular Saturday Farmers Market.
- Smart landscaping reduces potable water use by 59% by using drought tolerant, native or adapted planning, water efficient drip irrigation, and weather-based irrigation controllers.
- Water use reduction through high efficiency plumbing fixtures reduce indoor potable water use by 69%.
- Like all newly constructed City buildings, the Pico Branch is powered by 100% renewable energy, purchased under contract.
- Trellises and awnings shade the building interior. Trellis-mounted photovoltaic panels generate on-site electric power.
- The light-colored and reflective roof keeps the building cool. Light-colored paving and concrete reduces “heat islands,” which contribute to higher summer temperatures and smog.
- Energy reduction achieved through use of high efficiency LED and fluorescent lighting fixtures.
- Six Electric Vehicle charging stations are available at Virginia Avenue Park.
Innovation and Design Process
- Daylight is harvested through skylights, solar tubes, north-facing clerestories, large windows with overhangs, shade canopies and trellises.
- The two-building design is linked by an overhead trellis which is topped by photovoltaic cells.
- Rainwater is collected, filtered, and reused for toilets to both save water and to keep the runoff from overburdening the stormwater system – the first time this has been done in Los Angeles County.
- A plenum space above the ceiling helps air circulation.
Materials and Resources
- Over 95% of the construction waste was recycled.
- Over 20% of the newly-purchased construction materials contained recycled content, including the carpet and linoleum. Fifty year-old redwood beams were used for bench seating and picnic tables in the park.
- Over 10% of the construction materials were produced within the region.
- More than 69% of the new wood used in the framing was certified to originate from sustainable forests.
- The Library collects and recycles spent batteries from the public.
- Recycling is separated and collected in staff and public areas.
Indoor Environmental Quality
- Ninety-six percent of the seating offers views to the outdoors through shaded windows.
- Daylight climate controls include using automated light and motion sensors to maximize the benefits of natural lighting.
- A thermal comfort controls, via raised floor ventilation, mix fresh air into the system to support users’ optimal productivity, comfort and well-being.
- Buildings were "flushed" prior to staff moving in. This process involved running the mechanical system for two weeks following the completion of construction, and bringing 100% fresh air into the building. All mechanical system filters were replaced to remove construction related contaminants.
- All paint on the walls and structure, as well as all adhesives and sealants, are low VOC (volatile organic compounds), and contain little or none of the dangerous chemicals commonly found in these materials.
- Smoking is not allowed inside the Library and throughout Virginia Avenue Park.
- Individually controlled task lighting is placed at table seating for adults.
- The City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE) produced a short film highlighting the sustainable features at the Pico Branch.
- Public tours of the Library’s sustainable features will be offered to visiting classes from area public and private schools, other City of Santa Monica departments, and interested parties requesting a tour.
- Literature on the Pico Branch’s sustainable features will be available at the Branch.
- The Pico Branch webpage explains the building and location's sustainable features.
- The Santa Monica Public Library has awarded the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature annually since 2007. The Green Prize encourages and commends authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality books for adults and young people that make significant contributions to, support the ideas and broaden public awareness of sustainability.
Branch library service has been available at various locations in the Pico / Sunset Park area since the 1930s. A small branch was located at 1903 20th Street in a storefront building from 1931 until 1942, when it moved to a rented facility at 2030 Pico Boulevard in order to be closer to two schools. In 1956, the library moved into a newly-constructed facility at 2101 Ocean Park Boulevard and opened as the Fairview Branch Library.
The Pico Neighborhood Community Plan of 1983 addressed the need for a branch library to return to the neighborhood and suggested combining existing private sector commercial activities with public uses to include a library and a post office. As Virginia Avenue Park was being planned, the inclusion of a library was again raised. During the period 2001 to 2006, the City was focusing, however, on improvements to its three branch libraries and the construction of the new Main Library.
In 2008 the idea of a library returning to the Pico neighborhood gained momentum as the community considered the rebuilding of Edison Language Academy and the opportunity for a joint-use (Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and City) branch library was explored. The discussions led to the investigation of other locations for a branch, including along Pico Boulevard at a site to be acquired and in Virginia Avenue Park. Extensive community input into the siting, design and programming of the library occurred fall 2008 through spring 2011. In 2009, the City Council approved construction of a new branch library in Virginia Avenue Park and selected Koning Eizenberg Architects (KEA) as part of a competitive process. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on August 15, 2012. In 2014, the branch had its “soft” opening on April 24, and the ribbon-cutting, Grand Opening ceremony takes place on Saturday, June 28 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Information about the Pico Branch Library planning and construction project is available on the Pico Branch Project webpage.
The Pico Branch Library is sited to preserve park open space, integrate with the Farmers Market zone and other park buildings, and is oriented toward Pico Boulevard. The total cost of the project is $10.8 million from the City’s general and capital improvement funds. The 8,690 square-foot, single-story library designed by KEA has a two-building design. The main, 7,872 square-foot facility consists of children’s, teen, and adult collections; popular materials; a children’s area; three group study rooms; reading areas; public computers; and customer support services. To the west, across a fire lane, is the Annex, a separate 818 square-foot community room that is used for story times, educational, and cultural programs and can be rented by the public. The structures are connected at the roofline with a trellis, creating a pedestrian breezeway. A small, exterior amphitheater with terraced steps on the Annex’s south face enhances the building’s relationship to the Park Center and the Teen Center.
The Pico Branch project incorporates many sustainable features. The primary library building has clear glazing on three sides to provide natural daylighting and a strong visual connection to the park. A dynamic, folded roof design incorporates skylights for indirect lighting. The roof is treated to reflect sunlight to mitigate the heat island effect that contributes to smog. Large projecting roof overhangs and an expansive fabric canopy along the entrance façade provide shade for visitors. Landscaping includes new trees that provide additional shading, raised planters, and seat walls for comfortable outdoor seating. The first park in the U.S. to be awarded the LEED® Silver rating in 2005, the Pico Branch Library seeks a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.