AKA: UCLA Undergraduate Library, Westwood, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Arup, Ove, and Partners (firm); Bannister, J.C., Building Contractor (firm); Heitschmidt and Matcham, Architects (firm); Kaplan Chen Kaplan, Architects (firm); Kelham, George William, Architect (firm); Moore Ruble Yudell, Architects and Planners (firm); Page and Turnbull, Incorporated (firm); Syska Hennessy Group (firm); Youssef, Nabih and Associates (firm); Ove Arup (structural engineer); J. C. Bannister (building contractor); Chen (architect); Julian Ellsworth Garnsey (painter); Earl Theodore Heitschmidt (architect); Barbara Kaplan (architect); David Kaplan (architect); George William Kelham (architect); Charles Ormrod Matcham Sr. (architect); Charles Willard Moore (architect); John Ruble (architect); Robert Jonathan Yudell (architect)

Dates: constructed 1927-1929

10740 Dickson Court
University of California, Los Angeles, Campus, Los Angeles, CA 90095

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San Francisco architect George W. Kelham (1871-1936) designed this elegantly-detailed, Romanesque Revival library for the new Westwood campus of UCLA. Despite suffering significant damage during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the library has been renovated and strengthened (on two occasions) to remain a distinguished cornerstone of the original quadrangle.


In 1947, the Los Angeles architectural firm of Earl T. Heitschmidt and Charles O. Matcham appended a three-story addition to Powell's southeast corner; A.C. Martin and Associates built additional stack space between the wings added by Heitschmidt and Matcham, in 1958, which was removed in the 1994 renovation.

The building renovation, performed by Moore Rubel Yudell and Ove Arup Partners in 1998 received an American Institute of Architects-American Library Association Award; a painstaking seismic upgrade was performed on the plaster-cast ceiling painted by Julian E. Garnsey; David Kaplan of the Los Angeles architectural firm of Kaplan Chen Kaplan, participated in the renovation of the ceiling of Powell Library's Main Reading Room as "Historic Architect." The firm's web site summarized its activities at Powell: "The 1994 Northridge Earthquake severely damaged the ceiling of the 10,000 square foot Main Reading Room. Its structural system consisted of rotting straw and jute, wrapped in plaster, holding the ceiling in suspension from a thin metal frame. Over the past sixty years, the ceiling had also suffered from water damage and other losses. A repair strategy to provide the highest standard of safety and historic preservation was developed. The solution combined restoring and reinforcing original decoratively painted pieces, while replacing simpler elements with a stronger, lighter material and integrating these elements into a new structural system. David Kaplan, with Mellon & Associates, provided historic preservation services for the University during the FEMA funded repair and restoration project. Work included quality control/oversight as well as interface with SHPO and other state and federal agencies. The ceiling restoration represents an innovative and successful preservation project that included a team approach with the contractor, model inventory and documentation procedures and application of construction technologies with integrated quality control." (See "Powell Library Ceiling Restoration,"Accessed 11/17/2011.) Kaplan and his team won the State of CA's Governor's Award for Historic Preservation and an Los Angeles Conservancy Honor Award.

Powell Library's Reading Room closed on 11/07/2022, to enable seismic renovation construction to occur. A construction sign out front of the library stated: "The project will provide seismic improvements to the main library building (120,000 GSF). Included are improvement for accessibility and fire and life safety." (See Elizabeth Brady, Daily Bruin.com, "Powell Library to remain under construction for seismic safety till early 2024." 04/27/2023, accessed 11/01/2023.) At this time, it was expected to reopen between 14 and 16 months. (See UCLA Library.edu, "Construction Closure at Powell Library," accessed 11/01/2023.) The project team for this 2022-2024 renovation included architects Moore Ruble Yudell, Architects and Planners; Page and Turnbull, Incorporated, Architecture + Historic Preservation, historic architects; Nabih Youssef Associates, Structural Engineers; Mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers Syska Hennessy Group; KPFF Consulting Engineers, Civil Engineers; general contractor Skanska USA Building, Incorporated.

PCAD id: 1363