Library Infrastructure Project

Main Library front


History and information about the Building Forward grant-funded work is on this page. Follow the link for information about work to be accomplished with additional City funding.

Modernizing the Richmond Main Library

The Building Forward project is made possible by a $9.7 million grant from the California State Library awarded in October 2022. The City of Richmond appropriated 50% matching funds to create an almost $15 million budget to address critical life-safety and maintenance issues in the historic Main Library.

Information about the Building Forward grant funded portion of the Main Library Infrastructure Project is below.

In May 2023 the City Council appropriated an additional $15 million to provide for further renovation of the Library building. This funding will ensure completion of the grant-funded projects and create opportunities for renovations driven by community needs and input. 

Information about the expanded scope of the project is on the Additional City Funding subpage.

History of the Building

The Richmond Main Library was designed by noted San Francisco architects Milton T. and Timothy L. Pflueger as part of the postwar Civic Center Plaza designed 1945-1948. The buildings in this complex - City Hall, Memorial Auditorium/Art Center, 440 Building (originally the Hall of Justice), and Library - are of a uniform Modernist design that employed red brick and glass. The Main Library, which replaced a Carnegie Library at 4th and Nevin (now the Richmond Museum of History), opened to the public in 1949. It is regarded as the first glass-fronted public library in the country.

In 1977 plans were drawn up for expansion of the building.

In 1995 extensive electrical system upgrades were made to the building to accommodate computers.

In 2009 a comprehensive Library Needs Assessment was completed and published with a Library Program and Library Plan of Service.

Grant Funded Work

The Building Forward project has $14,569,469 in dedicated funding. The following outputs are funded:

Life Safety

  • Seismic upgrades: $2,109,504

    • Provide basic strengthening of the building's lateral capacity, connectors, and collectors with an allowance for further study.
  • Fire: $663,664

    •  Install a modern fire alarm and automatic fire sprinkler system.
  • Building entrance and perimeter: $391,276

    • Modify the main entrance to replace the existing solid wall with glass to improve visibility for staff to monitor who is entering the building.
  • Seismically braced shelving: $1,068,672

    • Replace old shelving with modern seismically braced shelving.

Critical Maintenance

  • Lighting and lighting controls: $1,067,732

    • Replace existing fixtures with modern lighting systems appropriate to the Main Library's historic nature and add a code-compliant lighting control system for functionality and energy efficiency.
  • Electrical power upgrades: $237,023

    • Add a new electrical distribution system in selected parts of the building to provide more power for staff and patron use and to correct unsafe conditions.
  • Mechanical systems upgrades - HVAC: $1,896,183

    • Replace the existing equipment to provide modern, efficient mechanical systems with high air filtration and air conditioning.
  • Window replacement: $2,035,237

    • Replace the entire window system with modern, high performance glazing complying with modern safety standards.
  • Floor finishes replacement: $853,282

    • Remediate asbestos during replacement of existing flooring including leveling the subfloor. Provide all new flooring.
  • Acoustical ceilings replacement: $535,145

    • Replace with new ceilings appropriate to building's historic nature.

Critical Accessibility Improvements

  • Restroom upgrades: $1,179,847

    • Fully renovate all restrooms to meet code minimum plumbing fixture counts and comply with ADA accessibility.
  • Elevator replacement: $451,472

    • Replace existing elevator with a modern, code-compliant elevator.

Grant Funding Sources

California State Library

Building Forward Library Infrastructure Grant: $9,712,979

City of Richmond (50% match)

American Recovery Plan Act: $3,656,490

Library Impact Fees: $700,000

Capital Improvement Program: $500,000

Related Documents

Additional City Funding