Instant Impact

UCLA Towell Library

Los Angeles, CA

Academic Priorities

The project’s mission was to temporarily serve the comprehensive functions of UCLA’s Powell Library while a five-year seismic retrofitting operation was underway. Observations of student life underscored the importance of maintaining traditional library values and functions even in a provisional facility.

Delicate Balance

An immediate need, budget constraints and the stipulation of no permanent site disturbance inspired the use of a proprietary tension structure. Lightweight, with a skeleton akin to that of an aircraft, the Towell’s regularly-spaced aluminum ribs were covered with a stretched-fiberglass membrane that was in turn anchored with laced cables to surrounding masonry walls.

Campus Icon

Seemingly casual and boldly asymmetrical, the Towell was nevertheless tightly woven into the architectural fabric of its surroundings. With playful homage to the school colors of blue and gold, and an inviting and luminous nighttime presence, the building quickly became an icon on campus.

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