219 Loyola: Building a Library for New Orleans



The building goes up! The photos here (all from the Municipal Government Photograph Collection, NOPL Series) trace the progress of the Main Library construction from basement to roof.

After the photographs are links to documents concerning the construction
of the building and quotations from contemporaries.

May 31, 1957

November 31, 1957

February 5, 1958

April 30, 1958

June 20, 1958

The finished product!


Work Order
Schedule of Finishes


The Library Board feels that the Architects have been extremely successful in reducing the cost of this building. They have eliminated the Bookmobile and Extension wing, which we hope may be erected at some later date, and they have restudied the entire structure, from the foundations to the roof. Through the most rigid economy, including such savings as they elimination of any floor coverings in all except public areas, reduction in the finishes requested for most areas of the building, and reduction of the number of book lifts and elevators initially installed, they estimate the cost of the proposed building at $16.67 per square foot or $1.25 per cubic foot. The building would contain approximately 145,000 square feet, and provision for future expansion will exist on the land available at the rear of the Bookmobile wing instead of being included in the foundations and roof of the building.

[Charles G. Smither to Mayor deLesseps S. Morrison, 30 October, 1956, Morrison Records]

. . . the building is a relatively simple block, and it grew almost completely out of the needs of the client.

[Arthur Davis. In "P/A Design Awards Seminar IV." Progressive Architecture, October 1957.]

. . . it was decided that the building should take a direction similar to that used for department stores--that the building should literally be a "department store for books," whose showcases would be the walls of the building, with the interior of the library as the constantly changing display. The interior, while retaining dignity, should reflect an informal atmosphere, with a visual flow which would encourage "shopping" through the various departments. To achieve this informality and yet retain the dignity which should characterize this type of public building was the challenge.

[Curtis and Davis; Goldstein, Parham and Labouisse; Favrot, Reed, Mathes and Bergman; Associated Architects.
"The New Orleans Public Library." In Clinton H. Cowgill and George E. Pettengill. "The Library Building."
Journal of the American Institute of Architects (Reprinted from the May and June 1959 issues).]

A modern library, the staff felt, should be a source of information and education for its patrons, a place in which the records of the past are organized and preserved, and a public center for recreational reading and esthetic development. We feel that our new plant provides New Orleans and its citizens with all these services.

[John Hall Jacobs. "Yesterday's Charm with Today's Functional Beauty." The Pioneer (March-April, 1959), p. 9.]

As in so many other matters, the resulting building represents a compromise between an unattainable idea and practical reality.

[George King Logan. "Cinderella Library." Library Journal (December 1, 1957), p. 3014.]


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