Los Angeles Central Library

Historic Renovation, Tom Bradley Wing & Maguire Gardens

Los Angeles, California

The City of Los Angeles commissioned Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer to restore and expand Bertram Goodhue’s 1926 landmark Central Library, the largest in the western United States. The project included the complete renovation of the original structure as well as an addition that more than doubled the library’s size. Its listing on the California Register of Historic Buildings required an approach that would both preserve its historical significance yet allow the library to provide services to a growing and diverse population. To avoid overwhelming the massing of the original building, the new addition places more than half its square footage below grade, connected with escalators and an eight-story soaring atrium that brings natural light to all levels of the library. As part of our efforts, we also recreated the West Lawn, removed in 1969 to provide staff parking. A major component of the project was the incorporation of the work of eleven artists—sculptors and painters—which enhances both the interior and the West Lawn. Since its re-opening, the Central Public Library has been widely credited as a major factor in the rebirth of downtown Los Angeles.

Project Data

539,000 sf (including 328,000-sf addition)

Program & Highlights

235-seat auditorium
8-story atrium
Outdoor café


2018 AIA/LA Design Awards Presidential Honoree Twenty-Five Year Award

2001 Westside Urban Forum Award

1995 AIA/ALA, Excellence for Library Architecture Award

1995 AIA, Honor Award for Urban Design

1994 Los Angeles Conservancy, Preservation Award

1993 Interiors Magazine 15th Annual Awards, Restoration of the Year Honor Award

Megan Barber, "The 19 most beautiful libraries in the U.S.," curbed.com, February 10, 2017

Stephen Gee and Arnold Schwartzman, Los Angeles Central Library: A History of its Art and Architecture, Santa Monica, CA: Angel City Press, 2016

J. K. Dineen, Here Tomorrow, Berkeley, CA: Heyday, 2013

Loreta Hall, Underground Building: More than Meets the Eye, Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books, 2004

Wolfgang Toepfer, "Bucher in Stein," Naturstein, October 15, 1998

"AIA Honor Awards: Urban Design: Los Angeles Central Library Master Plan, Architecture, May 1995

Edie Cohen, "The Los Angeles Central Library," Interior Design, August 1995

Allen Freeman, "L.A. Defined," Historic Preservation, September/October 1994

John Morris Dixon, "With All Due Respect," Progressive Architecture, September 1994

Vernon Mays, "Recrafting a Los Angeles Landmark," Architecture, April 1994

Paula Rice Jackson, "Shine on Brightly," Interiors, January 1994

Dominique Soter, The Light of Learning: An Illustrated History of the Los Angeles Library, Los Angeles: Library Foundation of Los Angeles, 1993

Paul Goldberger, "A Landmark Manages to Cheat the Wrecking Ball," New York Times, October 3, 1993

Joseph Giovannini, "Grandeur Central," Los Angeles Magazine, October 3, 1993

“Overall, the L.A. Library project is one of the most laudable reclamations of a civic monument in many years.”
— John Morris Dixon, Progressive Architecture

The Library before renovation.
The Library's West Lawn
Recent publication on the history of the Library's art and architecture

Associate Architect: Kennard Design Group
Structural Engineer: Brandow and Johnston Associates
MEP Engineer: Hayakawn Associates
Civil Engineer: Benito Sinclair Associates
Contractor: Tutor Saliba Corporation
Acoustics: McKay Conant Brook, Inc.
Lighting: Fisher Marantz Renfro Stone
Landscape Architect: Campbell and Campbell
Art Conservation: Building Conservation Associates
Photographer: Foaad Farah