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Article-Levitt.jpg

©2016 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 58, no. 9, September 2016

Bruce A. Levitt, P.E., and Lisa J. Sombart, P.E., Member ASHRAE

About the Author
Bruce A. Levitt, P.E., the lead engineer for the St. Louis Public Library renovation, completed the project while with William Tao & Associates, Inc., in St. Louis. Lisa J. Sombart, P.E., is principal-in-charge at William Tao & Associates, Inc., in St. Louis.

The Central Branch of the St. Louis Pubic Library opened in 1912, primarily through a gift from Andrew Carnegie. The Beaux-Arts library was designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert and cost $1.5 million to construct at that time. In 2012, a $70 million, four-year planning, design and construction project completely restored and renovated the historic structure.

The Central Branch is the centerpiece of the St. Louis Public Library system that has served the community for over 100 years. The primary objective of the renovation project was to rejuvenate the library, implement modern systems, repair and restore damage to the historic structure from previous renovation attempts, and bring another 100 years of library service to the community.

The renovation creates a new large public space, visual wayfinding throughout the library, a new ADA-accessible main entry, a 250-seat auditorium and exhibit area, an updated children’s area, a teen lounge adjacent to the library’s new Creative Experience multimedia studio, a Center for the Reader that expands access to new books and popular materials, and new computer technology throughout the facility, including interactive “discovery windows” in each public room and wireless Internet access. In addition, the entire mechanical and electrical system was replaced with new components that emphasized controllability, energy efficiency, and maintainability.

 

Building Description

The Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library is an 185,000 ft2 (17 187 m2) structure in downtown St. Louis. The base structure is a four-story facility. Each floor in the original structure served different functions. The basement level provided book distribution services to the entire library system and mechanical/electrical space. The first floor contained collections and work space for the library staff. The second floor, the centerpiece of the library, contained five reading rooms; each boasted a unique and ornate plaster ceiling that matched the finest work in the United States. The third floor contained central library offices, meeting rooms, and exhibition rooms.

The library also featured a seven-story, self-supporting modular bookshelf stack that contained the majority of this branch’s collection. The stack was periodically opened and closed to the public throughout the library’s life. The stack featured translucent glass floors, book lifts, pneumatic tubes and internal stairways. The enclosure of the stacks was roughly a 165 ft × 60 ft × 65 ft (50 m × 18 m × 20 m) column-free volume, ready for renovation.

 

Problems to Be Solved

The design team met with the library staff and established the following goals for the renovation:

  • A fully functional modern library with adaptable modern technology will be created while respecting the historic structure.
  • The majority of the collection will be directly accessible by the patrons.
  • A proper entrance with ADA access will be provided.
  • Mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and lighting systems will be fully replaced. A fire protection system will be installed.
  • Damage from previous renovations will be repaired and restored.
  • Water-bearing pipes will be minimized above the basement level to prevent potential leak damage to the collections and the ornate ceilings.
 

Read the Full Article

 

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