St. Louis Public Library

Designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert, the Saint Louis Public Library opened in 1912 as a centerpiece of downtown Saint Louis, and displays the exuberant grandeur typical of the era. The historic landmark boasts a monumental entrance above stone steps on Olive Street, a colossal front arcade adorned with bas-reliefs, facades of rusticated Maine granite, and an interior oval central pavilion surrounded by four light courts. After nearly a century of civic use, the building is to be renewed and transformed as a community information center serving the needs of a new generation of users.

The $45 million renovation of the 185,000 sf building updates the library’s research and service capabilities while restoring the splendor of the library’s classic historic rooms including its Great Hall. Many of the spaces currently occupied by staff and support functions will be moved off-site, allowing for nearly the entire building to be devoted to public use, new technologies, and collections. The renovation creates a new 250-seat auditorium and exhibit area, an updated children’s area with activity spaces, a teen lounge adjacent to the library’s new Creative Experience multi-media 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.

Key to tying the facility into the evolving fabric of the city is the creation of a new library entrance facing Lucas Park, which will welcome patrons into a dynamic multi-level contemporary space with a café, library shop, meeting rooms, and computer stations.

The “new” Central Library will serve as a community crossroads, gathering place and commons, enriching the cultural, intellectual, and economic life of the city. St. Louis Deputy Mayor Barb Geisman notes that the project has the potential to serve as a springboard for additional development nearby. "Having a state-of-the-art facility in a prominent downtown location, and one that celebrates the history of the library, moves it forward to the modern age."

Description by architects


8 photos and 2 drawings

Building Activity

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