Seismic Retrofit Projects
The 2019 voter-approved Library Levy provided $13.8 million in funding to seismically retrofit the historic Green Lake, University and Columbia branches.
About the Project
A survey identified the three unreinforced Carnegie buildings as high-risk for damage and loss of life in the event of a major earthquake. The 2016 survey was conducted by the city Department of Construction and Inspection, which advised these buildings be retrofitted in the next seven years.
The seismic upgrade to each of these landmarked buildings is estimated to take approximately 18 months to complete. The buildings will be closed during construction.
Detailed information on each project, including building closure dates and alternative services, will be shared as it becomes available.
Green Lake Branch Project Overview
The Green Lake Branch, one of The Seattle Public Library’s historically landmarked Carnegie buildings, is temporarily closed while undergoing a seismic retrofit and other major renovations, including the installation of a new HVAC system, accessibility improvements and interior modernization. We expect the branch to reopen in early 2024. This project, funded by the 2019 Library Levy, provides a unique opportunity to make the Green Lake Branch safer and better able to meet the needs of the community while preserving its important legacy.
The improvements and renovations to the Green Lake Branch will include:
- Seismic Retrofit: The Green Lake Branch will receive a comprehensive structural upgrade that will significantly increase the safety of the building during an earthquake.
- Accessibility Improvements: The entire building will be made more accessible for patrons with a new ramp from the sidewalk, a new ADA parking stall, new restrooms and a new fully accessible, west side building entrance leading to a new elevator serving both floors.
- HVAC System Replacement: The current gas-fired boiler system will be replaced with a new, highly efficient electric heat pump. The system will provide heating and air conditioning throughout the branch, allowing it to remain open and provide shelter and relief for the community on hot days.
- Interior Renovations: Interior improvements include renovations to the auditorium, two new study rooms, remodeled staff work areas, a new circulation/service desk, new lighting and new furniture will allow more efficient and flexible use of building space.
- Sustainability: The LEED-certified project is designed to meet the City of Seattle’s goals for environmentally responsible design.
Green Lake Branch Project Update – June 2023
Since the Green Lake Branch closure in February 2023, we have been carefully preparing the branch for its seismic retrofit and other major renovations, protecting the branch woodwork and all other historic architectural and design elements from construction dust and debris.
We have excavated the lower level of the branch, removing the existing elevator and surrounding basement wall to make room for an expanded lobby with a new and more accessible elevator and restrooms.
We are also excavating around the outside of the branch to make room for a new exterior plaza, loading dock and trash enclosure. As part of this work, we are building a new and improved foundation and stronger retaining wall for the branch.
The project is on schedule and on budget. We expect the Green Lake Branch will reopen in the spring of 2024.
University Branch Project Overview
With funding from the 2019 Library Levy, the University Branch will undergo major renovations in 2024. The work will include a seismic retrofit, the installation of an electric HVAC system, extensive accessibility improvements and interior modernization. The unique historical and cultural legacy of the University Branch will be protected and preserved throughout the project. We expect the University Branch project to be similar in scope to the Green Lake Branch project currently underway.
University Branch Project Status – June 2023
The University Branch seismic retrofit project is currently in the design development stage. The project team and architects will meet with the Landmarks Preservation board in the summer of 2023 and the public construction bidding process is expected to occur by the end of 2023.
Columbia Branch Project Overview
With funding from the 2019 Library Levy, the Columbia Branch will undergo major renovations in 2025-2026. The work will include a seismic retrofit, the installation of an electric HVAC system, extensive accessibility improvements and interior modernization. The unique historical and cultural legacy of the Columbia Branch will be protected and preserved throughout the project. We expect the Columbia Branch project to be similar in scope to the Green Lake Branch project currently underway.
Columbia Branch Project Status – June 2023
We have retained the architectural firm SHKS to conduct an early assessment of the scope and cost for the Columbia Branch seismic retrofit and other renovations and improvements. That assessment is expected to be complete by the end of summer 2023.