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Historic Preservationist to Consult on Library Retrofit

Published on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | 12:20 pm

City officials will work with a historic preservation consultant during the design phase of the Central Library seismic retrofit.

Safety concerns regarding unreinforced masonry forced the city to close the iconic structure on May 4.

Bringing the library back online continues to be a high priority for the city, said Michelle Perera, director of libraries and information services.

“The restoration and retrofit work that needs to be done is significant. The historic significance of this building will require careful integration of the seismic rehabilitation plan for this facility,” Perera said.

“In order to appropriately consider the historical aspects of the building, the city will be working with a historic preservation consultant as part of the design team to review and determine the historical features of the building and to evaluate the impact of potential retrofit schemes,” Perera said.

“The city will assemble and manage a multi-discipline architectural engineering design team of experts,” she said. “Staff from several city departments have been working closely to not only move the Central Library retrofit project forward, but also ensure library services and operations continue to meet the community needs today.”

Several potential sites have been identified as alternate locations for library operations and storage, and the library staff is currently reviewing the need.

The city sent a letter to Assemblyman Holden,D-Pasadena, asking for financial assistance for the design and drawings for the seismic upgrades in order to have a shovel-ready project as funding becomes available. Holden, a former Pasadena City Council member, has included $4 million for the project in the state budget for fiscal year 2022.

The Pasadena Central Library opened its doors in 1927 and is one of the three major buildings in the city’s Civic Center District as part of the Bennett Plan.

Developed by the Chicago architect Edward Bennett, the plan placed the city’s civic institutions within an area where streets conclude at the most important buildings: City Hall to the east, the library to the north, and the Civic Center to the south.

Under a retrofit, the building would be updated to meet seismic building code amendments per a 1993 ordinance that requires masonry buildings to meet specific standards.

At a City Council meeting in May, City Manager Steve Mermell announced an unfunded $30 million library improvement project became a placeholder for a revised project that would include a seismic upgrade and retrofit.

The library improvement project previously included building system upgrades and replacements including a fire alarm system and a new fire sprinkler system; roof replacement; replacement of domestic, sanitary, and stormwater piping systems; replacement of mechanical heating and cooling systems, including ductwork, electrical upgrades, seismic structural upgrades; and improvements to the exterior courtyard.

Since the library closed, additional branches have been open at least six days a week for in-person services or curbside pickup.

A modular trailer is being installed in the Central Library parking lot to deal with materials handling, routing, delivery and other services.

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