Originally designed by Edwards & Daniels Architects, the Old Main Library Building was completed in 1964 as one of the numerous public projects to help bring the city out of slow economic times. A Salt Lake icon of mid-century modern design, it was home to Salt Lake City's main library for 39 years. The New Formalist style building was designed to appear like a giant floating cube. Precast concrete panels that wrap the outside of the building are sandwiched between an exterior of glass on the top and bottom levels.
When city residents voted in favor of a $10.2 million bond in 2009 for the Main Library's renovation, this iconic building would become the home of The Leonardo, a center for science, technology and art. Great effort was taken to maintain the floating cube design intent and open plan interior while upgrading the building's life safety to comply with current code requirements.
The remodel of this three-story, 122,000 square-foot building included an asbestos abatement and complete seismic retrofit. The design team coordinated with the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure the proper design of the seismic bracing and building remodel to maintain the character defining features of the building. The seismic retrofit of the building included the design of four steel x-braces at the edges and concrete shear walls in the basement.
At the main level of the building, glass wall systems help maintain the original open plan design while defining space for these museum functions. These new walls are in keeping with the existing exterior glass walls without overpowering or competing with the original design. With all the design and technology that went into the restoration, it is only appropriate for The Leonardo, a center for science, technology and art find their home it a building that truly reflects the combination of these principles in mid-century modern architecture and seismic engineering.