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El Centro Library

The City of El Centro acquired an aging complex called the Valley Center Point Shopping Center and partnered with FPBA to revitalize and design a new library within it.

FPBA evaluated different scenarios—renovation of the existing building vs. demolition/construction of a new ground-up facility—and presented a final recommendation to the City Council, along with a vision for the library, in order to secure funding for the project. The poor condition, health hazards, shorter life span and lower flexibility of the existing building led FPBA to recommend the ground-up option.

After engaging community members in visioning sessions, FPBA developed a concept inspired by the city and region’s topography. Walls made of rammed earth panels achieve an earthen look to simulate the canyon walls of the Painted Gorge area near Ocotillo. Perforated shade canopies resemble the patchwork pattern of agriculture fields. The children’s area incorporates the look and feel of an archaeological site, complete with a dig site entry, explorer Jeep and custom tiered seating. Even more functional items like a retention basin will be formed like a natural arroyo, supplemented by landscaping and boulders.

Ultimately, the council voted 4-0 to approve $20 million in funding to go toward the library project.


El Centro, CA

Square Footage

140,000 SF

Team Members

Amanda Schultz
Ann Shelton
Derek McFarland