Rendering of the exterior entrance to the new North Neighborhood library including incorporation of the Atlantic Theatre’s iconic spire.

It’s been more than a year and a half since the last of three interactive community meetings was held to determine the layout and design of the new North Neighborhood library, which will be located on Atlantic Ave. just above South St. and will replace the current North Neighborhood Library on Orange Ave. nearby.

During that time, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency dissolved, leaving the fate of the new structure—that planned to occupy the site of the historic-but-dilapidated Atlantic Theater—in limbo. 

At the first North Long Beach Community Assembly of 2013 this past Saturday, however, councilmembers, librarians, architects and representatives from the city’s Development Services were on hand to not only assure 8th and 9th district residents that the project was going through as planned, but to unveil is official design. 

“Since the last public workshop, we have only developed elevation renderings, leaving the floor plans for the most part unaffected,” said Richard D’Amato of LPA Architects, who hosted the workshops between February and June 2011. “We tried to preserve what came out of those meetings and integrated it into the final site plan.”


Ariel view rendering of the new North Neighborhood library.

Unchanged from the master plan created in October 2010 are the promenade that will connect the now-empty lots on the west side of Atlantic with the new library on the east as well as a large public plaza directly in front of the main entrance that will be a flexible space for events, festivals and public art. 

A 3,800 square-foot community center that began as one room with the master plan became three variable spaces thanks to community input, allowing gatherings as small as a business meeting and as large as a lecture series to take place in a section of the library that will be accessible after hours.

The exterior design that was unveiled over the weekend includes artistic glass walls, “green screen” vertical plant materials on walls facing residences on Lime Ave. and a re-envisioned version of the iconic Atlantic Theater tower integrated into a glass roof atop a children’s reading room. 

“The tower is an architectural statement in the North Long Beach area and we wanted to preserve the nature of that tower and make it a focal point of the building,” D’Amato told residents. “Originally, the idea was to have the tower standing in the middle of the plaza, but here we have engaged the tower into the building and opened up the plaza.”

It is unclear whether or not the actual tower that now stands atop the Atlantic Theater’s marquee is stable enough to be salvaged for integration into the new library, but if not, a re-envisioned one will be created and, D’Amato says, re-illuminated, to once-again make the block a focal point for North Long Beach.


The current site of the new North Neighborhood library. The vacant Atlantic Theater still stands on the property. Photo by Sarah Bennett.

“We’ve done 22 libraries in California, but this one is particularly important to me,” says D’Amato, a 20-year Long Beach resident. “This is a library designed for this area, specifically for this neighborhood. I drive by this tower every day and it’s wonderful to be able to bring something back to the community I live in.”

Funding for the new library will come from Build America Bonds, money that was already assigned to the Redevelopment Agency before it dissolved that the city’s Department of Development Services can still keep for certain projects if the proper paperwork gets filed. Robert Zur Schmiede, Deputy Director of Development, says that the City has done its final step to maintain those funds and expects to receive them soon.

“We have filed all the necessary paperwork and are waiting to receive a ‘Finding of Completion,’ which is hard to predict, but we are anticipating an April time frame,” Zur Schmiede said.

Councilmembers Al Austin and Steve Neal praised the new library design, saying it represented rebirth and growth in North Long Beach.   

“I see a Renaissance transpiring here, slowly but surely. This library will be a part of that revitalization in our community,” said Austin.

New North Neighborhood Library Design Plans by Long Beach Post

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