2013 Recipient | AIA/ALA Library Building Awards

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Central Library Renovation | Notes of Interest

Cass Gilbert’s grand Beaux-Arts library, now 100 years old and a St. Louis cultural landmark, was in need of a transformative restoration that would increase public access and modernize it for the 21st century.

On the interior, the centrally located Great Hall is surrounded by five wings, four dedicated to public reading rooms and the fifth, the north wing, to a multistory book depository closed to the public. The transformation of the north wing truly rejuvenated the library and brought it into the next century. Old book stacks were removed, and a new “building within a building” was inserted. Now, a multistory public atrium provides an accessible and welcoming entry. The new “floating platforms” surround the atrium without touching existing interior walls. Glass-enclosed upper levels house the collection with compact high-density bookshelves. The windows of the north wall, now clear glass, bounce natural light deep into the interior and provide striking views.

The Great Hall and four public wings have been restored to their original splendor. Modern data and electric raceways, concealed in the floors, house up-to-date technology and allow future modifications. Interior restoration included cleaning, painting, and replacement of ornamental cast plaster ceiling sections removed in the 1950s. Lighting systems with contemporary and replica fixtures bring new life to the interior.

Additional Credit

  • Acoustical Consultant: AcousticControl, LLC
  • Architectural Support: Grice Group Architects
  • Audio Visual Design: William Tao and Associates, Inc.
  • Code: Code Consultants, Inc.
  • Construction Manager: BSI Constructors
  • Engineer – Civil/Structural: David Mason & Associates
  • Engineer – Electrical/Fire Protection/Mechanical/Plumbing: William Tao & Associates, Inc.
  • Environmental Graphics and Signage: Kuhlmann Leavitt, Inc.
  • Exhibit Consulting and Design: Heller Studio
  • Exterior Restoration Architecture: David Mason & Associates
  • Fountain Design: Hydro Dramatics
  • Owner's Representative: CLR Consultants, Inc.
  • Restoration/Historic Preservation: Frens and Frens, LLC
  • Landscape Design: SWT Design
  • Lighting Design - Exterior and Historical Interior: William Tao and Associates, Inc.
  • Lighting Design - Locust Street Atrium and North Entry: Derek Porter Studio
  • Security and Technology: Faith Group

Photo Credit

  • © Timothy Hursley

Central Library Renovation

  • Architect: Cannon Design
  • Owner: St. Louis Public Library
  • Location: St. Louis

Jury Comments

Meticulously renovated historic spaces combine with a sensitive combination of new construction within the existing historic shell to create a marvelous set of experiences for visitors.

The blend of old and new is simply masterful. Truly grand and fantastic—there is so much to like here.

2013 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards Jury

  • Jeanne M. Jackson, FAIA, Chair
  • VCBO Architecture
  • Salt Lake City
  • John R. Dale, FAIA
  • Harley Ellis Devereaux
  • Los Angeles
  • Charles Forrest
  • Emory University Libraries
  • Atlanta
  • Kathleen Imhoff
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • J. Stuart Pettitt, AIA
  • Straub Pettitt Yaste
  • Clawson, Michigan
  • John F. Szabo
  • Los Angeles Public Library
  • Los Angeles

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