The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has named the Santa Monica College (SMC) library expansion and renovation project one of nine recipients of the 2007 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards, putting SMC in the same elite class as the Clinton Presidential Library.

Representatives from the (AIA) American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association (ALA) gather periodically to celebrate the finest examples of library design by architects licensed in the United States.

“The architects have transformed an outdated library into a modern community landmark on a college campus,” the jury members said of the SMC project. “The receptive spaces, subtle introduction of daylight, artful use of materials and beautifully crafted details do not diminish the building, but rather improve it.”

The $23.6 million SMC Library project, designed by CO Architects of Los Angeles, was completed in 2003.

The project nearly doubled the size of the facility, provided widespread Internet access, increased seating from 550 to 1,300, increased the number of computer stations from 65 to 220 and added 21 group study rooms.

In addition, the project included seismic retrofitting and a redesign of the exterior, with landscaping, benches and lighting.

The American Institute of Architects noted that the libraryís new front porch “has become the campus heart — a place to meet, to be seen, to interact and to learn.”

“The award is a great honor for SMC,” said dean of learning resources Mona Martin, who worked closely with the architect on the libraryís design. “As [public television personality] Huell Howser said at the libraryís grand opening, ëThis library is the heart and soul of the campus.í

“The library now meets the research and study needs of our students and faculty. Our students deserve a state-of-the-art library like this.”

The metal, glass and concrete building also features major interior changes.

Dark-gray countertops are constructed from CaesarStone, white oak is the predominant wood found throughout, and new carpeting was installed.

With three stories divided into five levels, the library features plentiful skylights and atriums, giving the structure an open and airy feel, according to college officials.

The centerpiece for the library is an elliptical wood-paneled “building-within-a-building,” flanked at the north end by a dramatic three-story glass elevator tower.

The other winners of the awards were:

– William J. Clinton Presidential Center for the William J. Clinton Foundation in Little Rock, Ark., by Polshek Partnership Architects, LLP;

– Robin Hood Foundation Library for P.S. 192 in New York City, by Gluckman Mayner Architects;

– Desert Broom Branch Library for the City of Phoenix, Engineering and Architectural Services Department, Phoenix, by rich”rd + bauer architecture;

– Shunde Library for the City Construction and Development Center of Shunde District, Foshan, China, by P&T Architects and Engineers Ltd.;

– Ballard Library and Neighborhood Service Center for the Seattle Public Library, Seattle, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson;

– David Bishop Skillman Library for Lafayette College, Easton, Penn, by Ann Beha Architects;

– Fleet Library for the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I., by Office dA; and

– La Grande BibliothËque, for the BibliothËque et Archives nationales du QuÈbec, MontrÈal, by Patkau/Croft-Pelletier/MenkÈs Shooner Dagenais Architectes AssociÈs.