Featured: Portland Public Library Renovation

Contractor: Ledgewood Construction

Architect: Scott Simons Architects

As one of Portland’s most recognizable and most used landmarks, the Public Library’s Monument Square branch is not just a repository for countless volumes; it is a community gathering place. For years, architect Scott Simons and the Library’s executive director had been working, along with a group of passionate trustees, to come up with a plan to revitalize the Library that would both embrace its Monument Square location, as well as provide patrons with the modern amenities and experience they desired.

What emerged was the recently completed 43,400-s.f. renovation, the first of two phases. To visually connect the existing Brutalist structure – constructed in the late 1970s – to its Monument Square home, the design enclosed what was once an exterior courtyard with two-story curtain wall glass, creating a café and flooding the Library’s interior with extensive natural light. That single change made a world of difference. Inside, the Library is barely recognizable from its former self; re-programmed space and lower-height stacks create a sense of openness not felt previously. Flooring and finishes in natural materials such as wood, stone, and glass invite the outside in.

Beyond the aesthetics, the building underwent less visual, but equally as important, infrastructure upgrades including all new plumbing and electrical, new lighting, and new ductwork and boilers. Additionally, a solar chimney integrated in the curtain wall system draws heat from the sun up and into the HVAC system, reducing energy costs.

The project team worked closely with library staff to coordinate construction activities, ensuring minimal disruption to library operations which were ongoing in a lesser capacity on the lower level. The extremely confined site meant early involvement with the City’s traffic and code enforcement offices, detailing a site-specific plan to keep both pedestrians and vehicles safe during construction.

“The relationships Ledgewood built with our team over the ten months you were with us made all the difference; your project manager and superintendent understood how significant this renovation was for our staff, building committee, board of trustees and patrons. More importantly, they took the time and care to understand our schedule and our needs, adjusting construction to accommodate the Library’s daily activities.” Stephen Podgajny, Executive Director, Portland Public Library