People Oriented Building Design

I am one of the “bookish introverts who value getting lost in the stacks and discovering new (and old) worlds” that Wallace Baine so crudely dismissed in his recent glowing paean to the new Capitola Branch Library building (below).

I am people, too, and I don’t find this building “people-oriented” at all. To me, it’s crude, vapid, sterile, culturally disconnected from the community, environmentally wasteful (those overly tall, empty ceiling spaces), and most of all, inadequately supplied with books.

Libraries, and buildings in general, have a place in the history and culture of a community. To destroy our historic buildings and replace them with architects’ “look at me” show pieces ignores cultural values, denies historical continuity, and replaces meaningful community utility and function with “Wow Factor” entertainment and distraction.

Most all of the proposed architectural excess in Santa Cruz these days is ugly, boxy, Brutalist, and oppressive, providing only rudimentary human comfort to its proposed inhabitants. Sweeping empty interior spaces, boxy, undecorated exteriors, and sterile walls and furnishings are not welcoming to a public seeking warmth, security and comfort.


“Buildings shouldn’t hate you. They probably shouldn’t be weird-looking and they shouldn’t grate on the eyeballs. They should be comforting and attractive, because we have to live in them.”

Brianna Rennix & Nathan J. Robinson, Architecture and Design, October 2017

I go to libraries to read and learn, from the books on the shelves and the buildings that contain them. Books and paper are the only archival materials we have to transmit our culture to our children, and to preserve them for future generations. We need adequate places to conserve our written heritage and make it readily available to all.

What do our children learn when we tear down community history and culture and replace it with meaningless edifices disguised as art?

One thought on “People Oriented Building Design

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