Brand Library Wins 2016 Los Angeles Conservancy Award


In 2012, the City of Glendale and architecture firm Gruen Associates began reinvigorating the Brand Library and Art Center, one of the Jewel City’s most iconic buildings. The $9.5-million renovation concluded two years later in the form of a revitalized community landmark sporting modernized structural upgrades and the return of its original vintage visual aesthetics. Now the completed project is being honored with a 2016 Los Angeles Conservancy Award, an annual award recognizing the preservation of buildings with immense historical and cultural significance.

The Award Listing can be viewed here.

Library, Arts & Culture Director Cindy Cleary expressed her appreciation for the award and the project’s ability to restore one of Glendale’s original jewels to its original sheen.

“We are honored that Brand Library has been chosen as a recipient of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s prestigious Historic Preservation Award,” Cleary said. “This award not only recognizes our team’s dedication to restoring the original splendor of a very special place, but also honors Leslie Brand’s legacy to the City of Glendale. Brand Library is now truly a gem that shines in the Jewel City.”

Originally a lavish mansion built by the eponymous Leslie Coombs Brand, the building was completed in 1904 and served as his home until his death in 1925. He formally bequeathed the property to the City of Glendale under the stipulation it be utilized exclusively as a library. The transformation from mansion to library commenced in 1956, but the process was influenced by various compatibility issues that led officials to cover up existing windows/ doorways and apply acoustic plaster to the ceilings.

The 2012 renovation was geared toward rectifying those incompatibility issues, modernizing the structure, and restoring the building to its former Victorian visual glory. Structural improvements included a long overdue seismic bracing; a new HVAC system; a new roof; new plumbing, data, and electrical systems; and enhanced accessibility.

Gruen Associates partnered with Offenhauser/Mekeel Architects in order to achieve the proper historical aesthetic. Their expertise played a key role in restoring the ceiling stenciling, applying the original interior color of crimson, and ensuring the overall building embodied its Victorian-era roots.

Cathy Billings, Senior Library, Arts & Culture Supervisor for the Brand Library, praised the project’s dedication to authenticity and its immense attention to detail.

“With the recreation of the original ceiling paintings, wall colors, and light fixtures you can almost imagine you are spending time in Leslie and Mary Louise Brand’s home,” Billings said. “It is a testament to the outstanding job done by our architects, preservationists, and staff from the many City departments who put their hearts into the project.”

Brand Library was one of eight restoration projects to receive the 2016 Los Angeles Conservancy Award distinction. An Award’s Luncheon will be held on May 5th.

The Los Angeles Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization that works through education and advocacy to recognize, preserve, and revitalize the historic architectural and cultural resources of Los Angeles County.

Brand Library is located at 1601 West Mountain Street. It contains over 110,000 items such as books, scores, DVDs, CDs, LPs, and magazines. Learn more about its programs and resources here.

For more information and imagery from the renovation, click here.

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