Pasadena City Council Approves Plan to Retrofit And Repair Central Library

Image of Pasadena Central LibraryPASADENA, CA — In a significant step toward preserving its cherished history while embracing the future, the Pasadena City Council, during its regularly scheduled meeting on August 21, 2023, approved a plan to move forward and begin the process of seismically retrofitting and repairing the Pasadena Central Library.

On May 3, 2021, City officials closed the Central Library as a result of a seismic evaluation of the building’s structural system. The evaluation indicated that the building is an unreinforced masonry (URM) structure and is not in compliance with Pasadena Municipal Code nor meets the minimum structural performance should an earthquake occur.  Since the closure, a design team made up of experienced engineers, architects, and historic preservation specialists prepared environmental documents and construction drawings for the seismic retrofit and renovation of the Central Library. A Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) appointed by the Mayor and a Community Programming Committee appointed by the City Manager were also established to advise the design team in the development of the optimal and least impactful retrofit approach with consideration of the current and future needs of the community. The committees are comprised of community leaders with expertise in a variety of areas including architecture, historic preservation, structural engineering, and library operations.

At the August 21st meeting, staff presented three earthquake retrofit approaches that were identified by the design team. The development of these three retrofit approaches were guided by goals and objectives established with input from library stakeholders, including the Mayor’s Technical Oversight Committee and various outreach events and surveys. Those goals include seismic performance, life safety, historic preservation, accessibility, function, upgrade, and public benefit. The City Council selected the Concrete Shear Wall earthquake retrofit approach and directed staff to proceed with a detailed design of the project.

With construction projected to commence in Fall 2025 pending funding, the retrofitting and repair process will unfold in multiple phases, culminating in the anticipated re-opening of the Central Library by Fall 2028.

Mayor Victor Gordo emphasized the project's significance, "The Central Library holds a special place in the hearts of Pasadena's residents, and its retrofit and repair marks a pivotal moment in the city's history. By fusing historical reverence with forward-thinking engineering and design, the City of Pasadena is steadfastly committed to creating a resilient and inviting Central Library that will stand for another century and beyond."

To continue to foster community engagement and transparency, a second Community Town Hall is scheduled for September 21, 2023, at the Robinson Park Recreation Center. The event will offer residents an opportunity to gain insights into the recommended seismic retrofit approach and to stay informed about the latest developments in the journey of the nearly centennial Pasadena Central Library.

To learn more about the Pasadena Central Library Retrofit and Repair Project and to view the timeline, please visit PasadenaPublicLibrary.net.

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