Planners spent more than a decade preparing to rehabilitate the 100-year-old, 200,000-sq-ft St. Louis Library, an undertaking that encompassed full restoration of its Great Hall, foyer and large historic rooms and the refurbishing of the structure's exterior.

Photo Courtesy of Timothy Hursley
Renovations to the St. Louis Central Library encompassed full restoration of its Great Hall, foyer and other large historic spaces.

Team members also created new uses for outmoded spaces, converting a coal bin in a sub-basement to a 250-seat auditorium, an initiative that required removing old mechanical equipment with temporary conveyors and threading new framing members through narrow openings.

By removing a seven-story "stack tower," team members created an atrium that they infilled with mezzanine-like structures and connecting stairways to accommodate community spaces, a cafe and meeting rooms. Plans required erection of a new structure within the existing shell, including 70 micropiles to support new loads. Workers then fed 650 steel beams and columns through a 7-ft-wide window, with every inch of boom and every pound of capacity used to set the steel.

Other spaces, including the Fine Arts Gallery, were returned to their original splendor. In one instance, team members had only a 1912 photograph to help replicate ornate plaster medallions missing from the gallery's ceiling.

Despite difficult working conditions, including extremely cramped conditions while converting the sub-basement to an auditorium, workers logged 291,000 man-hours without a lost-time accident.

General contractor BSI Constructors executed the safety program in accordance with provisions of OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP)—which places special emphasis on hazard prevention and control and jobsite analysis—as well as through training and cooperation between management and workers.

Among other criteria, workers were required to complete the OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour courses before arriving on site for work.

At the time of the project, BSI was the first and only general contractor in OSHA's Region VII to have been admitted into OSHA's VPP program.

St. Louis Central Library, St. Louis

Key Players

Owner St. Louis Public Library

GC BSI Constructors, St. Louis

Designer Cannon Design, St. Louis