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Historic Landmarks Commission Debates New Santa Barbara Central Library Look

Library building's exterior will get a major facelift in the form of a paint job, restoration work

The Historic Lands Commission on Wednesday debated the design of renovations coming to the Santa Barbara Central Library downtown.
The Historic Lands Commission on Wednesday debated the design of renovations coming to the Santa Barbara Central Library downtown.      (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara’s Central Public Library is preparing for a facelift, with a restoration and paint job that could bring the historic building back to the colors of its roots.

The Historic Landmarks Commission debated the merits of exterior work Wednesday, with a majority deciding to go with shades of original stucco used when the library was built in 1917.

The commission was also set to give final approval for proposed landscaping changes in the Santa Barbara Library Plaza and around the downtown library at 40 E. Anapamu St., but designers asked to postpone the item two weeks.

Those tweaks could include fewer trees (75 to 56), less turf, a new water feature and better lighting, among other upgrades. The Library Plaza Renovation Project has an estimated $3.9 million price tag.

Improvements came before the Historic Lands Commission because the Central Library Building, Faulkner Gallery and five Eucalyptus Citriodora trees out front are designated city landmarks.

“As you know, there’s been a lot of work happening at the Central Library,” said Jim Dewey, facilities and energy manager with city public works. “We really thought it needed a new paint job.”

Winick Architects from Santa Barbara and San Francisco-based Architectural Resources Group used 27 paint samples to better determine historically accurate colors for the Central Library’s new paint job. Click to view larger
Winick Architects from Santa Barbara and San Francisco-based Architectural Resources Group used 27 paint samples to better determine historically accurate colors for the Central Library’s new paint job.  (Winick Architects rendering)

Santa Barbara-based Winick Architects presented restoration plans, which featured masonry repairs, repainting parts of the complex to match colors of a historical paint analysis, mural conservation and wood cornice repairs.

The firm worked with the same group that helped restore the terminal at Santa Barbara Airport and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse across the street from the library.

After taking 27 microscopic samples from library buildings, Winick came up with three design variations.

The first option — the one commissioners liked most — adhered to roots of the building, which has seen its original stucco finish repainted twice in its lifetime, most recently as a bronze/gray color.

Both the main Central Library building and newer connecting space at the main entrance would be a lighter stucco reminiscent of the courthouse, with the Faulkner Gallery as a darker shade.

The other two designs were a mix of both, and commissioners were in favor of using paint to accent certain architectural features that had been painted over. 

Commissioners called the current design “muted” and welcomed plans to show off its artistic features.

There's been a lot of recent work done on the library's insides, since the Central Library just completed a new Children’s Library on the lower level and will host a grand opening from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The main level has a new adult literacy center, technology space and eating area. 

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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