On Saturday, September 21st, the City of Long Beach celebrated the grand opening of its new main library, named after celebrated tennis player and social activist Billie Jean King. The library is the third building to be completed as part of the larger Long Beach Civic Center (LBCC) project—a public-private partnership development led by Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners and master planned and designed by SOM.
Hundreds of community members, city staff, business leaders, and individuals from the design and construction team gathered during Saturday’s public celebration. The crowd heard remarks from civic leaders and Billie Jean King herself, who is a Long Beach native.
The approximately 92,000-square-foot library, which houses 300,000 books, provides a welcoming and flexible environment for the community. It includes a Veterans Resource Center, Family Learning Center, Center for Adaptive Technology, meeting and study rooms, special collections, and an extensive children’s area with an art studio and storytelling space.
“Observing toddlers intuitively navigating the play zones, teenagers using computers for research and games, and a variety of people checking out books provided a sense of pride and accomplishment in delivering a space that allows the community to expand their ability to explore, learn, create, and evolve for decades to come,” said SOM Director Jed Zimmerman.
The state-of-the-art library was a highly collaborative effort involving individuals from SOM’s Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York offices. Together, the team developed the first-ever heavy timber building for the City of Long Beach.
A new City Hall and Port Headquarters, both located within the Civic Center development, opened to the public in July 2019. The next milestone in the LBCC project is the completion of Lincoln Park, which is sited immediately adjacent to the new library.