West Branch Library

Berkeley, California / United States of America

The overall strategy was to deliver a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) facility, while giving the City of Berkeley a prominent and active community space. The area’s high traffic noise level and shading from the surrounding buildings posed challenges that morphed into creative building features. Computation Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modeling for natural ventilation was integral throughout the design process.  Insolation daylighting models were also carried out to help develop the form of the building.

The roof was designed and configured to capture the optimized amount of daylight. Natural ventilation in combination with a radiant flooring system provides library patrons with a comfortable temperature, while maximizing energy use.

The project was also carefully planned with long-term flexibility and adaptability in mind. The library stacks are large and airy, in anticipation of needing less books and shelving. The multi-purpose room serves as a reading and community meeting room. Both can also be used as independent space after hours. Photovoltaic panels were mounted on stanchions as opposed to directly on the roof. This encourages unimpeded water flow on the roof and allows for future technology without impacting the roof itself.

Architect of Record

Harley Ellis Devereaux


City of Berkeley

General Contractor

West Bay Builders


  • John Northmore Roberts and Associates
  • Moran Engineering
  • Tipping Mar