Projects

Stevenson School

What does a library look like today? For a generation of students who have never known anything but the Internet, books in a library are often little more than décor. At the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California, students were using the space between stacks for storing backpacks and the books on the shelves as barriers behind which to hide. Studio O+A’s challenge was to bring the library as a physical space into alignment with the way students actually study and conduct research. The goal was to redesign the library so that it served modern needs even as it began a process of wooing young people back to books.
What does a library look like today? For a generation of students who have never known anything but the Internet, books in a library are often little more than décor. At the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California, students were using the space between stacks for storing backpacks and the books on the shelves as barriers behind which to hide. Studio O+A’s challenge was to bring the library as a physical space into alignment with the way students actually study and conduct research. The goal was to redesign the library so that it served modern needs even as it began a process of wooing young people back to books.
  • City Pebble Beach, CA

  • Year 2018

  • Size 6,500 sq ft

  • Team Primo Orpilla, Rachelle Meneses, Kristina Cho, Paulina McFarland


“Books In the Running Brooks…”

Because most learning, research, and information storage now takes place online, stacks stocked with books are no longer the definition of a library. At Stevenson School, O+A’s design removed shelves of unused books to make way for the hands-on, collaborative forms of learning and study that now shape a student’s life. Essential books remained as a reminder of where the larger culture comes from and to give students access to texts needed for their classes, but the aim of the design was to open up the space and delineate its functions.


Quiet Please

To the surprise of our designers the library had become a noisy, rambunctious place for student socializing. O+A’s design used furniture and flooring patterns to restore order and to identify which areas are for study and concentration and which are for meeting and talking (quietly) with friends. Because the library is sometimes used by teachers to make special presentations and sometimes by teams of students to work together on assignments, these areas remain fluid and the furniture mobile, but an architectural boundary establishes zones for social interaction and for focused work.


Colors That Energize

Located in picturesque Pebble Beach, California, the Stevenson School is surrounded by nature, and O+A’s first impulse was to draw its design palette from natural sources—the gray of driftwood, the pale tan of sand, bursts of color as if from wild flowers or berries. In the end, the final palette selections were tilted less toward nature per se and more toward freshness, a combination of hues that subtly suggest energy. The cleanliness of the current space starkly contrasts with the clutter that was there before and replaces a stale atmosphere with one designed to invigorate.


Window on a Wider World

The basic architecture of the school and its setting on a lush California campus, gave the library a solid frame within which O+A built a space that opens students to possibilities. The idea in every O+A design is to offer options—different space types for different ways of working. The challenge here was to encourage that flexibility while maintaining a system that prevents the high spirits of these young people from turning it into a free-for-all. This is their last stop before entering a bigger world. Our design seeks to offer them a glimpse of what awaits them there.