As a tagline, “building better libraries for stronger communities” might be a little trite, but it does sum up San Francisco’s ambitions for its branch-improvement program — an ongoing building campaign funded in part by a $105.9 million bond passed by city voters in 2000. The 24 renovated or newly constructed branch libraries that will ultimately result from this program strive to be more than just places to borrow the latest New York Times best seller or surf the Internet. They are intended to serve as community hubs, offering events as diverse as cooking demonstrations, English classes for recent immigrants, or computer instruction.
These aspirations were very much on the minds of the architects responsible for a branch on a corner lot on Ocean Avenue, the Ingleside neighborhood’s main commercial strip. Even though the $3.5 million building, which opened in September 2009, was to be only one story tall and just over 6,000 square feet, “we wanted to give it a civic presence,” says Anne Fougeron, principal of the eponymous firm that designed the library along with Group 4 Architecture.