Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
St. Louis Public Library, Central Library Transformation and Restoration by Cannon Design
January 21st, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Cannon Design
Nearing the 100th-year anniversary of its Central branch, the St. Louis Public Library sought to modernize the space for a new century, increase public access, and enhance the original Beaux Arts building by Cass Gilbert as a cultural treasure.
From the building’s original south entry, a granite stair leads to the reception foyer, which is connected to a central Great Hall. The hall is surrounded by five wings, four dedicated to public reading rooms and the fifth, the North Wing, to a multistory book depository.
The North Wing transformation was the most dramatic move in the rejuvenation of this building. Between the walls of the North Wing, Gilbert had inserted a structurally independent steel skeleton for floor support and book shelving. The renovation involved removing the old building within the building” to address fire and seismic hazard. A multistory public atrium now welcomes visitors coming through a new north-facing entry. Reflecting Gilbert’s intent, new floating platforms” surround the atrium without touching the interior walls. The glass-enclosed upper levels house the library’s collection in high-density bookshelves.
The Great Hall and four public wings were also part of the renovation. Interior restoration work included cleaning and repairing the ornamental cast plaster ceiling, parts of which had been removed in the 1950s. Metal and stone surfaces, too, were cleaned and repaired.
The new public entry on the north side defers to Gilbert’s original façade as a canopy that arises from a pool of water and never touches the original building. The stainless steel canopy is supported by columns whose surfaces are engraved with titles from the library’s collection. This new entrance opens up the building to surrounding urban neighborhoods north of the library.
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