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  • Explore Central Library Architecture

  • In the original plans for Central Library, Myron Hunt designed a four-levelbookstack area, which could someday be finished to accommodate a growing collection. When this building was originally opened in 1927, only two levels were completed, the main level (with an immense open space above where more bookstacks could one day go) and one below at the basement level.

    By the 1980’s, the Library’s collection had grown to the point where it was necessary to complete Myron Hunt's visionary plan for a larger capacity bookstack. A $2.6 million project began in the summer of 1984 and was funded by a combination of federal, state, and city funds.

    In order to enlarge the bookstack from two to four levels, include an elevator, and meet modern seismic and fire safety standards, it was necessary to completely gut the book vault by removing the existing two levels of stacks. Inside this space, an entirely new steel structure was built with solid floors, an important feature in preventing a chimney-like spread of fire, which occurred in the disastrous Los Angeles Public Library fire of 1986.

    The original marble floor, an unpolished Vermont marble, was carefully removed when the stack area was gutted for construction. It was put back in a pattern, which was specifically designed to direct patrons to the Main Hall.

    When Myron Hunt won the competition for the original design of Central Library, there were certain key design features, which influenced his selection as the project architect by the City. This was also the case when the 1984 selection committee chose William Henry Taylor as the stacks project architect. His use of the natural light from the original skylights on the fourth level and the atrium linking the upper and lower floors, convinced the twelve individuals who represented the Cultural Heritage Committee, the Design Review Committee, and the Library Board to select him. Mr. Taylor was assisted by Raymond Girvigian, a historical restoration architect. Mr. Girvigian helped ensure historical continuity in this project just as he did during the restoration of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento.

    Replicas of the Main Hall pendant chandeliers were also incorporated into the design in the stack area. Also noteworthy in this area are the beautiful banisters. Each bend is composed of 4 or more pieces of wood that were glued together and then carved into their lovely shape.