Central Library, the crown jewel of the St. Louis Public Library system, closed its doors in 2010 for a two-year restoration and renewal of the historic 1912 Cass Gilbert designed building. The transformative project increases public access, modernizes the library for the 21st century and enhances the building's stature as a cultural treasure.
The original building was designed in Beaux Arts style except for the North Wing façade which featured a series of tall, slim windows to admit filtered light into a closed stack area. A structurally independent steel skeleton, doubling as bookshelves and floor support, was inserted by Gilbert as a "building within the building."
The North Wing truly ushers in the 21st century with the removal of old book stacks and the insertion of a newly constructed "building within the building." A three-story multistory public atrium creates an accessible and welcoming entry, with new public spaces that include a 250-seat theater and teen rooms. In total, the project has created more than 40,000 sf of new public space in the library. The building's Great Hall and four public wings are restored and revitalized to their turn-of-the-century splendor.
Central Library, endowed by a special gift from Andrew Carnegie, has always existed to serve the people of St. Louis. This remarkable revitalization of the historic building increases its value to the city, helps revitalize the urban core and can continue to serve the community for another 100 years.
For more information on the 2014 AIA Honor Awards, please visit http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/2014/architecture/st-louis-public-library/