Multnomah County Central Library Rehabilitation

Portland, Oregon

How do you preserve a landmark through rebuilding?

Multnomah County Central Library Rehabilitation. Large, open Georgian style library loby with marble columns flanking self check-out stationin the foreground and a dark marble grand staircase in the background. Box beam ceilings can be seen overhead and the floor is a simply patterned geometric terrazzo.

The Multnomah County Central Library, designed in 1913 by A.E. Doyle, is one of the City of Portland’s most important historic landmarks. Working with Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer’s Los Angeles office, FFA completely rehabilitated the library, including interior renovation and structural, mechanical and electrical upgrades. The project opened to rave reviews by the public and library staff in April of 1997 and subsequently received the AIA’s Architecture + Energy Award in 1999 for its successful synthesis of energy-saving features and aesthetically-pleasing design.

Working together, the library staff, artists, and FFA established the design theme, ‘The Garden of Knowledge’ and integrated that theme with the historic structure throughout the building. Carpets, light fixtures, stair finishes, and public art works all contribute to this concept and, at the same time, were carefully designed to complement the historic character of the existing library. At the time the rehabilitation began, only 30 percent of the collection was available to the general public. FFA moved many of the library staff areas to a new addition, allowing 70 percent of the collection to be accessible.

Year Completed:
122,200 sf
Project Contact:
Troy Ainsworth, AIA, NCARB
Principal, Market Lead

AIA/ALA, National Award of Excellence;
Architecture & Energy NW, Award of Merit;
Oregon Governor’s Livability Award;
Portland Chapter AIA, People’s Choice Award;
Oregon Chapter IIDA, Merit Award;
Oregon Chapter IIDA, People’s Choice Award

Selective Demolition
Historic Forms
Precision and Craft
Basement Excavations

Centrally Located with Public Transit Access
Retaining Historic Character of the Grand Stair