New details on planned renovations and addition at University Branch library

Seattle Public Library’s University Branch, one of six historic Carnegie libraries in the network, is set to receive a full seismic retrofit and additional renovations to improve the life, safety, and accessibility of the 100-plus-year-old building and expand its programs and services to better serve the community.

The project is currently in early design. Project architect SHKS Architects recently presented its initial plans to the Landmarks Preservation Board. The project will likely include some kind of addition to the building’s rear that will add extra work and/or study rooms. Current proposed options include a south-side addition that would double as a new entrance and workroom space and a north-side addition which would add study rooms. The northern option also includes a smaller entryway addition on the south side. SHKS is also proposing to raise the parking lot at the back of the building to improve access.

Any addition will need to take into account the property’s neoclassical style and architecture. In its presentation to the board, SHKS said it is currently determining the extent to which any addition should embrace the building’s historical style and features in both form and materials. SHKS is also exploring how modern designs could integrate with and enhance the historic library.

As well as the proposed addition, the branch will get a full seismic retrofit, ADA accessibility upgrades that include the installation of an elevator, and new energy-efficient HVAC and electrical systems, including air conditioning, to bring the building to LEED GOLD standards.

The University Branch is the second of three Carnegie libraries that will receive upgrades and renovations as part of a 2019 voter-approved Libraries for All levy. Renovations are set to begin at the Green Lake Branch this fall (no additions there). The final Carnegie to be renovated will be the Columbia City Branch. The University Branch is located at 5009 Roosevelt Way N.E.

SSF did the seismic evaluation of all three libraries mentioned in this article and is the structural engineer with SHKS for the University Branch and with BuildingWork for the Green Lake Branch. SPL has not yet issued the advertisement for the renovation of the Columbia City Branch.




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