The Ultramodern Library
“The 497,000-square-foot facility is twice the size of its predecessor with a grand total of nine stories.”
San Diego Central Library opened its doors to the public on September 28, 2013. The $184.9 million facility is in downtown East Village with beautiful views across the bay to Coronado Island. Completion of the new library was much anticipated and gained overwhelming community support for construction of the project. The dome structure has become a proud architectural achievement for the city.
When in the initial design phase, the foremost concern was how to design the new facility to withstand the corrosive marine environment while maintaining an overall image of great opulence which reflects the status of this world-renowned city. The complex design of this project required many strategy sessions with hot-dip galvanizing being one of the main topics of conversation. It was the answer that the design team had been looking for to address their concerns pertaining to environmental corrosion. Durable and virtually maintenance-free, coupled with a record of outstanding sustainability, hot-dip galvanized steel was specified and used to construct the outside façade of the building, including the magnificent 3-story arched domed terrace.
The 497,000-square-foot facility is twice the size of its predecessor with a grand total of nine stories. It features a truly magnificent exposed galvanized arched domed terrace, 350-seat auditorium, three-story reading room, advanced technology center, art gallery, day care center, cafeteria, outdoor garden courtyard and even a charter high school occupying the sixth and seventh floors. On-site parking is available in a garage under the library.
The first study for the new Central Library was done over 30 years ago, followed by 45 additional studies before finally being approved for construction in 2010. Incredibly, not a penny of construction money for the new facility would be allocated from the city’s general fund or city-issued bonds. Instead, a novel funding plan was pooled together using California redevelopment funds, state grants, complex multi-tiered rental agreements with the San Diego School District, and over $75 million in local private donations. In total, 40% of the projects cost was donated by more than 3,000 private individuals. The private donations were a record for the funding of a public works project of this kind.
Galvanizing the project proved to be a challenge requiring two separate galvanizing plants with different kettle dimensions to accommodate the mammoth arched frame structures. The largest frames in the project were progressively dipped with various pieces even requiring a third pass through the kettle to ensure total zinc coverage.