Armored books

June 2014 » Project + Technology Portfolio » Education/Health Care/Religious
New San Diego library built to resist corrosive marine environment, with elegance.
American Galvanizers Association

Hot-dip galvanized steel was used to construct the outside façade of the San Diego Central Library, including a three-story arched-domed terrace.

San Diego’s Central Library opened its doors to the public on Sept. 28, 2013. The $184.9 million facility is located in downtown’s East Village with beautiful views across the bay to Coronado Island. Construction of the new library gained overwhelming community support and the dome structure has become a proud architectural achievement for the city.

In the initial design phase, the foremost concern was how to design the new facility to withstand the corrosive marine environment while maintaining an overall image of great opulence that reflects the lofty status of this world-renowned city. Hot-dip galvanizing was the master key the design team had been looking for to address concerns pertaining to environmental corrosion. Hot-dip galvanized steel was specified and used to construct the outside façade of the building, including the three-story arched-domed terrace.

The 497,000-square-foot, nine-story facility is twice the size of its predecessor. It features an exposed galvanized arched-domed terrace, a 350-seat auditorium, a three-story reading room, an advanced technology center, art gallery, day care center, cafeteria, outdoor garden courtyard, and a charter high school occupying the sixth and seventh floors. Onsite parking is available in a garage under the library.

The first study for the new Central Library was done more than 30 years ago, followed by 45 additional studies before the project was finally approved for construction in 2010. Not a penny of construction money for the new facility was allocated from the city’s general fund or city-issued bonds. Instead, a novel funding plan was pooled together using California redevelopment funds, state grants, complex multi-tiered rental agreements with the San Diego School District, and more than $75 million in local private donations. In total, 40 percent of the project’s cost was donated by more than 3,000 private individuals. The private donations were a record for the funding of a public works project of this kind.

Galvanizing the project proved to be a challenge requiring two separate galvanizing plants with different kettle dimensions to accommodate the arched frame structures. The largest frames in the project were progressive dipped with various pieces requiring a third pass through the kettle to ensure total zinc coverage. 

Hot-dip galvanized steel is prominently displayed on both the interior and exterior of this structure, adding a final appearance of character and distinction to the library’s hip, ultramodern aesthetics. The San Diego Central Library received the American Galvanizers Association’s highest honor — Most Distinguished — in the 2014 Excellence in Hot-Dip Galvanizing Awards.

Information provided by the American Galvanizers Association (galvanizeit.org)


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