St. Louis Central Library

After 98 years, the St. Louis Central Library was in desperate need of renovation when it finally got one in 2010. The architects spent two years overhauling the Cass Gilbert-designed Beaux Arts building to restore and enhance its original splendor. In addition to relocating certain support functions off-site, much of the renovation focused on transforming the North Wing, previously known for its paltry access to light. The new space opens up the stacks via a building-within-a-building concept that puts the books and public gathering spaces on full display. Efficient, plate-glass walls and thin, bright white flooring frame the spaces, and a new entrance facing Lucas Park helps integrate the building into the community. A 250-seat auditorium that will serve mainly as a performance hall makes good use of previously wasted space, replacing an old underground coal bin. The final product is both revealing and inviting, making the North Wing and the rest of the restored Central Library building a place where readers can enjoy spreading out over their books.

Cannon painstakingly restored the building’s Great Hall, reusing all original finishes and ornaments original to the building.

Cannon painstakingly restored the building’s Great Hall, reusing all original finishes and ornaments original to the building.

Cannon painstakingly restored the building’s Great Hall, reusing all original finishes and ornaments original to the building.

Cannon painstakingly restored the building’s Great Hall, reusing all original finishes and ornaments original to the building.

Cannon painstakingly restored the building’s Great Hall, reusing all original finishes and ornaments original to the building.

Cannon painstakingly restored the building’s Great Hall, reusing all original finishes and ornaments original to the building.

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